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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.


This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Times Reporter Free From Jail; She Will Testify - New York Times

Times Reporter Free From Jail; She Will Testify - New York TimesSeptember 30, 2005
Times Reporter Free From Jail; She Will Testify
By DAVID JOHNSTON and DOUGLAS JEHL

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 - Judith Miller, the reporter for The New York Times who has been jailed since July 6 for refusing to testify in the C.I.A. leak case, was released Thursday from a Virginia detention center after she and her lawyers reached an agreement with a federal prosecutor in which she would testify before a grand jury investigating the case, the publisher and the executive editor of the paper said.

Ms. Miller was freed after spending more than 12 weeks in jail, during which she refused to cooperate with the inquiry. Her decision to testify was made after she had obtained what she described as a waiver offered "voluntarily and personally" by a source who said she was no longer bound by any pledge of confidentiality she had made to him. Ms. Miller said the source had made clear that he genuinely wanted her to testify.

That source was I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, according to people who have been officially briefed on the case. Ms. Miller met with Mr. Libby on July 8, 2003, and talked with him by telephone later that week, they said.

Discussions between officials and journalists that week that may have disclosed the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Wilson, have been a central focus of the investigation.

Ms. Miller said in a statement that she expected to appear before the grand jury on Friday. Ms. Miller was released after she and her lawyers met at the jail with Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the case, to discuss her testimony.

The publisher of The Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said in a statement that the newspaper supported Ms. Miller's decision, just as it had backed her refusal to testify.

"Judy has been unwavering in her commitment to protect the confidentiality of her source," Mr. Sulzberger said. "We are very pleased that she has finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver, both by phone and in writing, releasing her from any claim of confidentiality and enabling her to testify."

For more than a year, Mr. Fitzgerald has sought testimony from Ms. Miller about conversations she had with Mr. Libby. Her willingness to testify now was in part based on personal assurances given by Mr. Libby this month that he had no objection to her discussing their conversations with the grand jury, according to those officials briefed on the case.

Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation has centered on whether anyone in the Bush administration illegally disclosed to the news media the identity of Ms. Wilson, a C.I.A. employee. The first published reference to Ms. Wilson was in July 2003 in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak, who referred to her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame.

Another important question has been whether officials were truthful in their testimony to investigators and the grand jury.

Ms. Miller never wrote an article about Ms. Wilson. Mr. Fitzgerald has said that obtaining Ms. Miller's testimony was one of the last remaining objectives of his inquiry, and the deal with her suggests that the prosecutor may soon end the long-running investigation. It is unknown whether prosecutors will charge anyone in the Bush administration with wrongdoing.

The agreement that led to Ms. Miller's release followed intense negotiations among her; her lawyer, Robert Bennett; Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate; and Mr. Fitzgerald.

The talks began with a telephone call from Mr. Bennett to Mr. Tate in late August. Ms. Miller spoke with Mr. Libby by telephone this month as their lawyers listened, according to people who have been briefed on the case. It was then that Mr. Libby told Ms. Miller that she had his personal and voluntary waiver.

The discussions were at times strained, with Mr. Libby and Mr. Tate's asserting that they communicated their voluntary waiver to another lawyer for Ms. Miller, Floyd Abrams, more than year ago, according to those briefed on the case.

Other people involved in the case have said Ms. Miller did not understand that the waiver had been freely given and did not accept it until she had heard from Mr. Libby directly.

Ms. Miller authorized her lawyers to seek further clarification from Mr. Libby's representatives in late August, after she had been in jail for more than a month. Mr. Libby wrote to Ms. Miller in mid-September saying he believed that her lawyers understood during discussions last year that his waiver was voluntary.

On Sept. 16, Mr. Tate wrote to Mr. Fitzgerald saying his conversations with Mr. Abrams last year were meant to assure Ms. Miller that a broad waiver that Mr. Libby signed in late 2003 was not coerced and applied specifically to Ms. Miller.

On Thursday, Mr. Abrams wrote to Mr. Tate disputing parts of Mr. Tate's account. His letter said although Mr. Tate had said the waiver was voluntary, Mr. Tate had also said any waiver sought as a condition of employment was inherently coercive.

Mr. Tate said in an interview on Thursday, "Her lawyers were provided with a waiver that we said was voluntary more than a year ago." Mr. Abrams would not discuss the question in a brief telephone conversation on Thursday.

As part of the agreement, Mr. Bennett gave Mr. Fitzgerald edited versions of notes taken by Ms. Miller about her conversations with Mr. Libby.

In statements on Thursday, Ms. Miller and executives of The Times did not identify the source who had urged Ms. Miller to testify. Bill Keller, the executive editor, said Mr. Fitzgerald had assured Ms. Miller's lawyer that "he intended to limit his grand jury interrogation so that it would not implicate other sources of hers."

Ms. Miller's lawyers had sought such an assurance as a condition of her testimony.

Mr. Keller said Mr. Fitzgerald cleared the way to an agreement by assuring Ms. Miller and her source that he would not regard a conversation between the two about a possible waiver as an obstruction of justice.

According to someone who has been briefed on Mr. Libby's testimony and who believes that his statements show he did nothing wrong, Ms. Miller asked Mr. Libby during their conversations in July 2003 whether he knew Joseph C. Wilson IV, the former ambassador who wrote an Op-Ed article in The Times on July 6, 2003, criticizing the Bush administration. Ms. Miller's lawyers declined to discuss the conversations.

Mr. Libby said that he did not know Mr. Wilson but that he had heard from the C.I.A. that the former ambassador's wife, an agency employee, might have had a role in arranging a trip that Mr. Wilson took to Africa on behalf of the agency to investigate reports of Iraq's efforts to obtain nuclear material. Mr. Wilson's wife is Ms. Wilson.

Mr. Libby did not know her name or her position at the agency and therefore did not discuss these matters with Ms. Miller, the person who had been briefed on the matter said. Ms. Miller said she believed that the agreement between her lawyers and Mr. Fitzgerald "satisfies my obligation as a reporter to keep faith with my sources."

"I went to jail," she added, "to preserve the time-honored principle that a journalist must respect a promise not to reveal the identity of a confidential source. I chose to take the consequences, 85 days in prison, rather than violate that promise. The principle was more important to uphold than my personal freedom. "

Ms. Miller said she was grateful for the "unwavering support" shown by her husband, family and friends and The Times. She said that she would say nothing more publicly about the case until after her grand jury testimony.

Mr. Fitzgerald declined to comment, a spokesman, Randall Samborn, said.

The case has been the most significant test in decades of whether reporters can refuse to disclose to prosecutors their discussions with confidential sources. Many journalists say those sources would refuse to provide information if their anonymity could not be protected.

At least four other reporters are known to have provided information to Mr. Fitzgerald. But Ms. Miller had until refused to do so. In July, the Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal of a lower court order that she be jailed for contempt for her refusal to testify.

When Mr. Wilson emerged as a critic of the Bush administration in July 2003, administration officials questioned his credibility. The column by Mr. Novak said Mr. Wilson's wife, who worked for the agency, had suggested the trip.

New details about the case have emerged in recent months. Karl Rove, the president's senior political strategist, and Mr. Libby both discussed Ms. Wilson with reporters, according to testimony provided by Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine reporter, and by others.

But neither White House official is known to have mentioned Ms. Wilson by name or to have mentioned her status at the C.I.A.

Mr. Cooper testified in August 2004 about a conversation with Mr. Libby conducted in 2003. But Mr. Cooper had resisted a subpoena to appear before the grand jury to discuss a conversation with Mr. Rove.

In July, after his employer, Time Inc., part of Time-Warner, complied with a subpoena seeking his notes from the period, Mr. Cooper agreed to testify, after seeking and obtaining what he called a specific waiver from Mr. Rove, releasing him from a pledge of confidentiality.

That decision left Ms. Miller alone in resisting the prosecutors' demand to testify. Much about Ms. Miler's role remains unclear. Mr. Keller, the executive editor, has declined to say whether she was assigned to report about Mr. Wilson's trip, whether she tried to write an article about it or whether she ever told editors or colleagues at The Times that she had obtained information about Ms. Wilson's role.

Under the terms of her jailing, Ms. Miller faced incarceration through the duration of the current term of the grand jury hearing the case, and that is due to expire on Oct. 28. Had Ms. Miller continued to resist, lawyers involved in the case said they believed that it was highly likely that Mr. Fitzgerald would have tried to keep her in jail by extending the grand jury term or convening a new grand jury.

Ms. Miller had been housed at the Alexandria Detention Center, a county jail in suburban Virginia. As a federal prisoner, Ms. Miller was an exceptional case. But a spokesman for the sheriff's office, which administers the center, said she had been granted no special privileges.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Roberts Overwhelmingly Approved as Next Chief Justice - New York Times

Roberts Overwhelmingly Approved as Next Chief Justice - New York TimesSeptember 29, 2005
Roberts Overwhelmingly Approved as Next Chief Justice
By DAVID STOUT

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 - Judge John G. Roberts Jr. was confirmed as the 17th chief justice of the United States today in a formality that intensified speculation over who will be President Bush's next Supreme Court nominee.

The Senate confirmed Judge Roberts by a vote of 78 to 22, with unanimous support from Republicans and with many Democrats voting for him as well. Judge Roberts was to be sworn in at the White House this afternoon by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens amid expectations that the president will announce his next choice for the court very soon.

There has been widespread speculation that Mr. Bush will tap a woman or a member of a minority group. The president encouraged such speculation early this week when he commented on the need for diversity on the court. No one will be surprised if the president nominates a Hispanic, since there has never been one on the high court.

The new chief justice will preside over the Supreme Court term that begins on Monday, and in all likelihood over many terms thereafter, since he is only 50 years old. In moving up from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, John Roberts will succeed Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, for whom he was once a law clerk.

Judge Roberts and his wife, Jane, a lawyer, had lunch with President Bush at the White House today before the swearing-in. The judge watched the Senate vote from the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

Judge Roberts was originally nominated to succeed the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But with the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist on Sept. 3, President Bush renominated Judge Roberts to be chief - leaving Justice O'Connor's post unfilled. She has said she will stay on the court until her successor is confirmed.

"With the confirmation of John Roberts, the Supreme Court will embark upon a new era in its history, the Roberts era," Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican majority leader, said before the vote. "For many years to come, long after many of us have left public service, the Roberts court will be deliberating on some of the most difficult and fundamental questions of U.S. law."Those issues include abortion and assisted suicide, issues that caused his Democratic opponents to view him with suspicion. During hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrats pressed him on those topics and on whether his views on civil rights and women's rights had changed since his days as a young lawyer in the Reagan administration. The judge told his questioners that his Catholic faith would not determine how he rules on matters of law.

The Democrats who opposed Judge Roberts said he had not been frank enough during the hearings and had been downright evasive at times. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a member of the Judiciary Committee, was a leading opponent.

"I hope I am proved wrong about John Roberts," Mr. Kennedy said today. "I have been proved wrong before on my confirmation votes."

Even the judge's critics have conceded his intellectual brilliance and his accomplishments as a lawyer. And after the Judiciary Committee endorsed Judge Roberts, 13 to 5, one week ago, with three of the panel's eight Democrats backing him, any suspense about the nomination evaporated.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic minority leader and an opponent of Judge Roberts, said before the vote that he had not tried to twist the arms of any Democrats. "They will vote their conscience," he said.

Twenty-two Democrats voted for Judge Roberts today, and 22 voted against him. The Senate's lone independent, James Jeffords of Vermont, voted in favor. Vermont's other senator, Patrick J. Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, voted for confirmation.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he hoped that his opposition would turn out to be a mistake.

"I decided that while there was a very good chance that Judge Roberts would be a mainstream, very conservative but mainstream justice without an ideological agenda, that he was not convincing enough," Mr. Schumer said.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, also voted no. So did Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, Democrats of New Jersey. Senators Joseph I. Lieberman and Christopher Dodd, Democrats from Connecticut, voted for the nominee.

Democrats who opposed Judge Roberts made it clear early on that they would not try to block his confirmation through parliamentary moves. But they have signaled that they will consider such tactics if Mr. Bush nominates someone whom they consider a conservative ideologue.

"The curtain is about to rise on the nomination of a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor," Mr. Schumer said. "If ever there was a time that cried out for consensus, the time is now."

Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans - New York Times

Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans - New York TimesSeptember 29, 2005
Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans
By JIM DWYER and CHRISTOPHER DREW

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 25 - After the storm came the siege. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, terror from crimes seen and unseen, real and rumored, gripped New Orleans. The fears changed troop deployments, delayed medical evacuations, drove police officers to quit, grounded helicopters. Edwin P. Compass III, the police superintendent, said that tourists - the core of the city's economy - were being robbed and raped on streets that had slid into anarchy.

The mass misery in the city's two unlit and uncooled primary shelters, the convention center and the Superdome, was compounded, officials said, by gangs that were raping women and children.

A month later, a review of the available evidence now shows that some, though not all, of the most alarming stories that coursed through the city appear to be little more than figments of frightened imaginations, the product of chaotic circumstances that included no reliable communications, and perhaps the residue of the longstanding raw relations between some police officers and members of the public.

Beyond doubt, the sense of menace had been ignited by genuine disorder and violence that week. Looting began at the moment the storm passed over New Orleans, and it ranged from base thievery to foraging for the necessities of life.

Police officers said shots were fired for at least two nights at a police station on the edge of the French Quarter. The manager of a hotel on Bourbon Street said he saw people running through the streets with guns. At least one person was killed by a gunshot at the convention center, and a second at the Superdome. A police officer was shot in Algiers during a confrontation with a looter.

It is still impossible to say if the city experienced a wave of murder because autopsies have been performed on slightly more than 10 percent of the 885 dead.

[On Wednesday, however, Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state's medical incident commander for Hurricane Katrina victims, said that only six or seven deaths appear to have been the result of homicides. He also said that people returning to homes in the damaged region have begun finding the bodies of relatives.

[Superintendent Compass, one of the few seemingly authoritative sources during the days after the storm, resigned Tuesday for reasons that remain unclear. His departure came just as he was coming under criticism from The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which had questioned many of his public accounts of extreme violence.]

In an interview last week with The New York Times, Superintendent Compass said that some of his most shocking statements turned out to be untrue. Asked about reports of rapes and murders, he said: "We have no official reports to document any murder. Not one official report of rape or sexual assault."

On Sept. 4, however, he was quoted in The Times about conditions at the convention center, saying: "The tourists are walking around there, and as soon as these individuals see them, they're being preyed upon. They are beating, they are raping them in the streets."

Those comments, Superintendent Compass now says, were based on secondhand reports. The tourists "were walking with their suitcases, and they would have their clothes and things taken," he said last week. "No rapes that we can quantify."

Rumors Affected Response

A full chronicle of the week's crimes, actual and reported, may never be possible because so many basic functions of government ceased early in the week, including most public safety record-keeping. The city's 911 operators left their phones when water began to rise around their building.

To assemble a picture of crime, both real and perceived, The New York Times interviewed dozens of evacuees in four cities, police officers, medical workers and city officials. Though many provided concrete, firsthand accounts, others passed along secondhand information or rumor that after multiple tellings had ossified into what became accepted as fact.

What became clear is that the rumor of crime, as much as the reality of the public disorder, often played a powerful role in the emergency response. A team of paramedics was barred from entering Slidell, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, for nearly 10 hours based on a state trooper's report that a mob of armed, marauding people had commandeered boats. It turned out to be two men escaping from their flooded streets, said Farol Champlin, a paramedic with the Acadian Ambulance Company.

On another occasion, the company's ambulances were locked down after word came that a firehouse in Covington had been looted by armed robbers of all its water - a report that proved totally untrue, said Aaron Labatt, another paramedic.

A contingent of National Guard troops was sent to rescue a St. Bernard Parish deputy sheriff who radioed for help, saying he was pinned down by a sniper. Accompanied by a SWAT team, the troops surrounded the area. The shots turned out to be the relief valve on a gas tank that popped open every few minutes, said Maj. Gen. Ron Mason of the 35th Infantry Division of the Kansas National Guard.

"It's part of human nature," General Mason said. "When you get one or two reports, it echoes around the community."

Faced with reports that 400 to 500 armed looters were advancing on the town of Westwego, two police officers quit on the spot. The looters never appeared, said the Westwego police chief, Dwayne Munch.

"Rumors could tear down an entire army," Chief Munch said.

During six days when the Superdome was used as a shelter, the head of the New Orleans Police Department's sex crimes unit, Lt. David Benelli, said he and his officers lived inside the dome and ran down every rumor of rape or atrocity. In the end, they made two arrests for attempted sexual assault, and concluded that the other attacks had not happened.

"I think it was urban myth," said Lieutenant Benelli, who also heads the police union. "Any time you put 25,000 people under one roof, with no running water, no electricity and no information, stories get told."

Crimes of Opportunity

The actual, serious crime began, in the recollection of many, before the catastrophic failure of the levees flooded the city, and much of it consisted of crimes of opportunity rather than assault. On the morning of Monday, Aug. 29, in the half hour or so that the eye of Hurricane Katrina fell on the city - an illusory moment of drawn breath, sunshine and fair breezes - the looters struck, said Capt. Anthony W. Canatella, the police commander in the Sixth District.

Using a chain hitched to a car, they tore open the steel doors at the back of a pawn shop called Cash America on Claiborne Avenue. "Payday Advances to 350," read a sign where the marquee would have been.

"There was nothing in there you could sustain your life with," Captain Canatella said. "There's nothing in there but guns and power tools."

The Sixth District - like most of New Orleans, a checkerboard of wealth and poverty - was the scene of heavy looting, with much of the stealing confined to the lower-income neighborhoods. A particular target was a Wal-Mart store on Tchoupitoulas Street, bordering the city's elegant Garden District and built on the site of a housing project that had been torn down.

The looters told a reporter from The Times that they followed police officers into the store after they broke it open, and police commanders said their officers had been given permission to take what they needed from the store to survive. A reporter from The Times-Picayune said he saw police officers grabbing DVD's.

A frenzy of stealing began, and the fruits of it could be seen last week in three containers parked outside the Sixth District police station. Inside were goods recovered from stashes placed by looters in homes throughout the neighborhood, said Captain Canatella, most but not all still bearing Wal-Mart stickers.

"Not one piece of educational material was taken - the best-selling books are all sitting right where they were left," Captain Canatella said. "But every $9 watch in the store is gone."

One of the officers who went to the Wal-Mart said the police did not try to stop people from taking food and water. "People sitting outside the Wal-Mart with groceries waiting for a ride, I just let them sit there," said Sgt. Dan Anderson of the Sixth District. "If they had electronics, I just threw it back in there."

Three auto parts stores were also looted. In a house on Clara Street, Sergeant Anderson picked his way through a soggy living room, where car parts, still in their boxes, were strewn about. On the wall above a couch, someone had written "Looters" with spray paint.

"The nation's realizing what kind of criminals we have here," Sergeant Anderson said.

Among the evacuees, there was gratitude for efforts by the police and others to help them get out of town, but it was clear that some members of the public did not have a high opinion of the New Orleans Police Department, with numerous people citing cases of corruption and violence a decade ago.

"Don't get me wrong, there was bad stuff going on in the streets, but the police is dirty," said Michael Young, who had worked as a waiter in the Riverwalk development.

French Quarter Is Spared

As the storm winds died down that Monday, small groups that had evacuated from poor neighborhoods as far away as the Lower Ninth Ward passed through the historic French Quarter, heading for shelter at the convention center.

"Some were pushing little carts with their belongings and holding onto their kids," said Capt. Kevin B. Anderson, the French Quarter's police commander. He said his officers gave food, water and rides. "That also served another purpose," he said. "That when they came through, they didn't cause any problems."

The jewelry and antique shops in the French Quarter were basically left untouched, though squatters moved into a few of the hotels. Only a small grocery store and drugstores at the edge of the quarter were hit by looters, he said. From behind the locked doors of the Royal Sonesta hotel on Bourbon Street, Hans Wandfluh, the general manager, said he had watched passers-by who seemed to be up to no good. "We heard gunshots fired," Mr. Wandfluh said. "We saw people running with guns."

At dusk on Aug. 29, looters broke windows along Canal Street and swarmed into drugstores, shoe stores and electronics shops, Captain Anderson said. Some tried, without success, to break into banks, and others sought to take money from A.T.M.'s.

The convention center, without water, air-conditioning, light or any authority figures, was recalled by many as a place of great suffering. Many heard rumors of crime, and saw sinister behavior, but few had firsthand knowledge of violence, which they often said they believed had taken place in another part of the half-mile-long center.

"I saw Coke machines being torn up - each and every one of them was busted on the second floor," said Percy McCormick, a security guard who spent four nights in the convention center and was interviewed in Austin, Tex.

Capt. Jeffrey Winn, the commander of the SWAT team, said its members rushed into the convention center to chase muzzle flashes from weapons to root out groups of men who had taken over some of the halls. No guns were recovered.

State officials have said that 10 people died at the Superdome and 24 died around the convention center - 4 inside and 20 nearby. While autopsies have not been completed, so far only one person appears to have died from gunshot wounds at each facility.

In another incident, Captain Winn and Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann, the assistant SWAT commander, said they both shot and wounded a man brandishing a gun near people who had taken refuge on an Interstate highway. Captain Winn said the SWAT team also exchanged gunfire with looters on Tchoupitoulas Street.

The violence that seemed hardest to explain were the reports of shots being fired at rescue and repair workers, including police officers and firefighters, construction and utility workers.

Cellphone repair workers had to abandon work after shots from the Fischer housing project in Algiers, Captain Winn said. His team swept the area three times. On one sweep, federal agents found an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle, Captain Winn said.

For military officials, who flew rescue missions around the city, the reports that people were shooting at helicopters turned out to be mistaken. "We investigated one incident and it turned out to have been shooting on the ground, not at the helicopter," said Maj. Mike Young of the Air Force.

Nathan Levy contributed reporting from Austin, Tex., for this article.

Constance Baker Motley, Civil Rights Trailblazer, Dies at 84 - New York Times

Constance Baker Motley, Civil Rights Trailblazer, Dies at 84 - New York Timeseptember 29, 2005
Constance Baker Motley, Civil Rights Trailblazer, Dies at 84
By DOUGLAS MARTIN

Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights lawyer who fought nearly every important civil rights case for two decades and then became the first black woman to serve as a federal judge, died yesterday at NYU Downtown Hospital in Manhattan. She was 84.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said Isolde Motley, her daughter-in-law.

Judge Motley was the first black woman to serve in the New York State Senate, as well as the first woman to be Manhattan borough president, a position that guaranteed her a voice in running the entire city under an earlier system of local government called the Board of Estimate.

Judge Motley was at the center of the firestorm that raged through the South in the two decades after World War II, as blacks and their white allies pressed to end the segregation that had gripped the region since Reconstruction. She visited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in jail, sang freedom songs in churches that had been bombed, and spent a night under armed guard with Medgar Evers, the civil rights leader who was later murdered.

But her m├ętier was in the quieter, painstaking preparation and presentation of lawsuits that paved the way to fuller societal participation by blacks. She dressed elegantly, spoke in a low, lilting voice and, in case after case, earned a reputation as the chief courtroom tactician of the civil rights movement.

Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama and other staunch segregationists yielded, kicking and screaming, to the verdicts of courts ruling against racial segregation. These huge victories were led by the N.A.A.C.P.'s Legal Defense and Education Fund, led by Thurgood Marshall, for which Judge Motley, Jack Greenberg, Robert Carter and a handful of other underpaid, overworked lawyers labored.

In particular, she directed the legal campaign that resulted in the admission of James H. Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962. She argued 10 cases before the United States Supreme Court and won nine of them.

Judge Motley won cases that ended segregation in Memphis restaurants and at whites-only lunch counters in Birmingham, Ala. She fought for King's right to march in Albany, Ga. She played an important role in representing blacks seeking admission to the Universities of Florida, Georgia Alabama and Mississippi and Clemson College in South Carolina.

She helped write briefs in the landmark school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and in later elementary-school integration cases.

Judge Motley was a tall, gracious and stately woman whose oft-stated goal was as simple as it was sometimes elusive: dignity for all people. Her personal approach was also dignified. When a reporter wrote that she had demanded some action by the court, she soon corrected him:

"What do you mean 'I demanded the court'? You don't demand, you pray for relief or move for some action."

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, whose admission to the University of Georgia was engineered by Mrs. Motley's legal finesse, described her courtroom cunning.

"Mrs. Motley's style could be deceptive, often challenging a witness to get away with one lie after another without challenging them," she wrote in her book "In My Place," published in 1992. "It was as if she would lull them into an affirmation of their own arrogance, causing them to relax as she appeared to wander aimlessly off into and around left field, until she suddenly threw a curveball with so much skill and power it would knock them off their chair."

As a black woman practicing law in the South, she endured gawking and more than a few physical threats. A local paper in Jackson, Miss., derided her as "the Motley woman."

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York at the urging of Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, a Democrat, and with the support of Senator Jacob K. Javits, a Republican. The opposition of Southern senators like James O. Eastland, a Mississippi Democrat, was beaten back, and her appointment was confirmed. She became chief judge of the district in 1982 and senior judge in 1986.

Constance Baker was born on Sept. 14, 1921, in New Haven, the ninth of 12 children. Her parents came from the tiny Caribbean island Nevis at the beginning of the 20th century.

Her father worked as a chef for various Yale University student organizations, including Skull and Bones. She attended local schools in what was then an overwhelmingly white community.

One of her first experiences with discrimination came at 15, when she was turned away from a public beach because she was black.

She read books dealing with black history and became president of the local N.A.A.C.P. youth council. She decided that she wanted to be a lawyer, but her family lacked money to send their many children to college. After high school, she struggled to earn a living as a domestic worker.

When she was 18, she made a speech at local African-American social center that was heard by Clarence W. Blakeslee, a white businessman and philanthropist who sponsored the center. He was impressed and offered to finance her education.

She decided to attend Fisk University, a black college in Nashville, partly because she had never been to the South. In Nashville, she encountered a rigidly segregated society, and brought her parents a poignant souvenir: a sign that read "Colored Only."

After a year and a half at Fisk, she transferred to New York University. After graduation in 1943, she entered Columbia Law School, where she began to work as a volunteer at the N.A.A.C.P.'s Legal Defense and Education Fund, an affiliate of the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People that Mr. Marshall and his mentor, Charles Houston, had created in 1939.

After she graduated in 1946, she began to work full time for the civil rights group at a salary of $50 a week. She worked first on housing cases, fighting to break the restrictive covenants that barred blacks from white neighborhoods.

Also in 1946, she married Joel Wilson Motley Jr., a New York real estate broker. He survives her, as does their son, Joel III, who lives in Scarborough, N.Y.; three grandchildren; her brother Edmund Baker of Florida; and her sisters Edna Carnegie, Eunice Royster and Marian Green, all of New Haven.

Mr. Marshall had no qualms about sending her into the tensest racial terrain, precisely because she was a woman. She said she believed that was why she was assigned to the Meredith case in 1961.

"Thurgood says that the only people who are safe in the South are the women - white and Negro," she said in an interview with Pictorial Living, the magazine of The New York Journal-American, in 1965. "I don't know how he's got that figured. But, so far, I've never been subjected to any violence."

Mr. Meredith's admission to the University of Mississippi in September 1962 was a major victory for the civil rights movement. Mrs. Motley worked on the case for 18 months before Mr. Meredith's name was even seen in the papers.

She made 22 trips to Mississippi as the case dragged on. Judge Motley once called the day Mr. Meredith accepted his diploma in 1963 the most thrilling in her life.

She said her greatest professional satisfaction came with the reinstatement of 1,100 black children in Birmingham who had been expelled for taking part in street demonstrations in the spring of 1963.

In February 1964, Mrs. Motley's high-level civil rights profile drew her into politics. A Democratic State Senate candidate from the Upper West Side was ruled off the ballot because of an election-law technicality. She accepted the nomination on the condition that it would not interfere with her N.A.A.C.P. work and handily defeated a Republican to become the first black woman elected to the State Senate. She was re-elected that November.

She remained in the job until February 1965, when she was chosen by unanimous vote of the City Council to fill a one-year vacancy as Manhattan borough president. In citywide elections nine months later, she was re-elected to a full four-year term with the endorsement of the Democratic, Republican and Liberal Parties.

As borough president, she drew up a seven-point program for the revitalization of Harlem and East Harlem, securing $700,000 to plan for those and other underprivileged areas of the city.

After becoming a federal judge in 1966, Judge Motley ruled in many cases, but her decisions often reflected her past. She decided on behalf of welfare recipients, low-income Medicaid patients and a prisoner who claimed to have been unconstitutionally punished by 372 days of solitary confinement, whom she awarded damages.

She continued to try cases after she took senior status. Her hope as a judge was that she would change the world for the better, she said.

"The work I'm doing now will affect people's lives intimately," she said in an interview with The New York Times in 1977, "it may even change them."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Supreme Court Takes On Spending Limits for Candidates - New York Times

Supreme Court Takes On Spending Limits for Candidates - New York TimesSeptember 28, 2005
Supreme Court Takes On Spending Limits for Candidates
By LINDA GREENHOUSE

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 - The Supreme Court opened a new chapter in the long-running debate over the role of money in politics on Tuesday by agreeing to decide whether Vermont's strict limits on campaign spending and contributions are constitutional.

The court's action suggested, although it did not guarantee, that the justices might be ready to revisit their 29-year-old precedent, Buckley v. Valeo, which in equating money with speech has been widely interpreted as ruling out any restrictions on expenditures by candidates.

Vermont is the only state to have placed limits on candidates' spending. Its contribution limits, $400 to candidates for statewide office during a two-year election cycle and lower for other offices, are the tightest in the country.

Whether the court is embarking on a fundamental reappraisal of its campaign precedents, or whether it is intervening to clear up growing confusion in the lower courts, the case will inevitably become a highlight of the Supreme Court's new term, which formally begins on Monday.

The justices, as has been their recent custom, got a jump on the term by adding cases to the new term's calendar from among those that arrived in the summer recess. On Tuesday's list, there were 11 new cases, which will be argued in January and February.

The Vermont case underscored the significance of the transition the court is now facing as it awaits not only the arrival of John G. Roberts Jr., who is expected to be confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as the next chief justice, but also a successor to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Justice O'Connor, who will retire when her successor is confirmed, took part in selecting the new cases on Tuesday. As in many other areas of law, she has been at the center of the court in campaign finance cases, and cast the deciding vote two years ago when the court upheld a major new federal campaign finance law, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, more commonly known as the McCain-Feingold law. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist was one of the dissenters. The 5-to-4 decision upheld curbs on the unlimited contributions to political parties known as soft money.

A second new campaign finance case that the justices accepted on Tuesday challenges the application of another section of that law, asking the court to establish as exception for "grass-roots lobbying" to the ban on corporate funding of certain advertisements in the weeks before election day.

The Vermont law was enacted in 1997 as a direct challenge to the Supreme Court's campaign finance precedents, or as Vermont's secretary of state, Deborah L. Markowitz, put it in an official memorandum, with the "express legislative goal of giving the Supreme Court an opportunity to re-evaluate its decision in Buckley v. Valeo."

While the law's strict contribution limits were notable, its main departure was in restricting campaign expenditures. Candidates for governor, for example, are limited to spending $300,000 in a two-year election cycle, regardless of whether the cycle includes a primary election.

In a 2-to-1 ruling last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which includes Vermont, endorsed the state's basic approach. It held that the state had correctly concluded that Buckley v. Valeo was not a complete prohibition on spending limits, but that such limits could be justified by rationales beyond the anticorruption rationale that the Supreme Court considered at the time.

These additional rationales included two that the appeals court panel's majority said were now "compelling": addressing the growing public cynicism about the impact of money on politics, and limiting the amount of time that candidates had to devote to raising money.

The appeals court then sent the case back to the federal district court in Vermont for a determination of whether in setting its spending limits, Vermont had chosen a sufficiently "narrowly tailored" means of achieving its valid objectives. In another portion of its ruling, the appeals court upheld the contribution limits.

The full appeals court then debated whether all 11 judges should rehear the case, and decided against rehearing by a vote of 6 to 5. The dissenters argued forcefully that no matter what state officials or lower court judges had to say, only the Supreme Court itself had the authority to cast Buckley v. Valeo in a new light.

Ordinarily, the Supreme Court refuses to hear a case that has not proceeded to a final judgment in the lower court. But the justices were evidently persuaded that the Second Circuit panel's analysis merited review without waiting for an answer to the "narrow tailoring" inquiry. The district court has not yet issued its ruling.

The attorneys general of Connecticut, New York and 11 other states filed a brief urging the court to hear the case and decide the "critical issue" of the constitutionality of spending limitations, which the officials said were the subject of growing confusion in the lower courts and mounting interest among state and local legislators. Federal appeals courts have recently invalidated spending limits enacted by the cities of Albuquerque and Cincinnati.

The plaintiffs who challenged the Vermont law, and who filed appeals in the Supreme Court, were the American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition represented by the James Madison Center for Free Speech in Terre Haute, Ind. That coalition included the Vermont Republican State Committee, the Vermont Libertarian Party and the Vermont Right to Life Committee.

The Supreme Court accepted both appeals: Randall v. Sorrell, No. 04-1528 (the American Civil Liberties Union's case) and Vermont Republican State Committee v. Sorrell, No. 04-1530.

In addition, the court accepted a separate appeal, Vermont Public Interest Research Group v. Randall, No. 04-1697. Represented by the National Voting Rights Institute, an advocacy group that supports spending limits, the Public Interest Research Group said it supported the Second Circuit's decision and would offer additional rationales in support of spending limits.

"The broader governmental interest in political equality among citizens also deserves consideration," the group said.

The American Civil Liberties Union's brief called the Second Circuit's opinion a dramatic departure from the Supreme Court's precedents. The First Amendment does not permit the state to decide how much speech is enough for either candidates or voters, the brief said.

The second campaign finance case the justices accepted on Tuesday was Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. v. Federal Election Commission, No. 04-1581. In its 2003 decision rejecting a broad challenge to the McCain-Feingold law, the Supreme Court upheld a provision that restricted the use of corporate treasury funds to pay for "electioneering communications" in a 60- or 30-day window before general or primary elections. The prohibited communications are those that refer to a clearly identified candidate for public office.

The Wisconsin Right to Life organization is arguing that although it is a corporation, it should be permitted to challenge the broad prohibition as applied to the sort of "grass roots lobbying communications" that it seeks to broadcast. A special three-judge federal district court here dismissed the case in May of this year as foreclosed by the Supreme Court earlier ruling.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Editorial Observer: Justice Breyer Proposes a New Path for the Post-Rehnquist Court - New York Times

Editorial Observer: Justice Breyer Proposes a New Path for the Post-Rehnquist Court - New York TimesSeptember 26, 2005
Editorial Observer: Justice Breyer Proposes a New Path for the Post-Rehnquist Court
By ADAM COHEN

In law school, I took a yearlong administrative law course from Stephen Breyer. Many people find "ad law," the law of agencies and government regulation, fairly dull. But Justice Breyer, who was not yet on the Supreme Court, could barely contain his enthusiasm. He talked animatedly, week after week, about subjects like Congress's decision to mandate air bags in new cars. At the end of every class, we made a point of checking how much chalk there was on his suit, since he tended to back into the blackboard in his excitement over topics like "agency nonacquiescence."

Early in his career, Justice Breyer was counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he worked on the federal criminal code, fair housing law and airline deregulation. Today, he is an unusual kind of judge: one with a deep personal attachment to the legislative process. That makes him a particularly interesting figure in the current debate over how "activist" judges should be.

Justice Breyer has just published a book, "Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution," which is in part a response to those, like Justice Antonin Scalia, who believe the Constitution should be interpreted based on the "original intent" of the founders. But "Active Liberty" stands on its own as a provocative and well-argued case for reading the Constitution in light of the founders' greatest concern: giving the people the power to govern themselves.

In this time of transition on the court, which is getting two new members, including a chief justice to succeed William Rehnquist, Justice Breyer's book could help chart a path in which the court starts to interpret the Constitution in ways that strengthen American democracy.

"Active liberty," according to Justice Breyer, is the ability of ordinary citizens to play a role in government decisions. As he sees it, the Constitution's drafters were most interested in creating a government that remained under the control of, as the first three words of the document say, "We the People."

Originalists like Justice Scalia see the Constitution as a set of rights and rules that were frozen in time when they were written. Justice Breyer argues that the better What-would-the-founders-do? approach is to interpret the Constitution in ways that promote its essential purpose: helping citizens get the knowledge and power they need to influence government policies on important issues.

Justice Breyer applies the theory to specific cases. The right to free speech, he argues, should be interpreted in ways that help people exchange the information they need to govern themselves. Political speech is central to this process, and should be highly protected, he says, while "commercial speech" like advertising can be more regulated. He argues that campaign finance laws could survive many First Amendment challenges because they promote integrity in politics, which is a good thing for active liberty.

Promoting active liberty does not mean allowing the majority to run roughshod over minorities. It calls for taking special care that all groups have a chance to fully participate in society and the political process. Discussing the recent University of Michigan affirmative action cases, Justice Breyer contrasts an opinion by Clarence Thomas, arguing that the Equal Protection Clause requires government actions to be "colorblind," with one by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, more in the active liberty spirit, that sees a role for race-based distinctions intended to help groups "long denied full citizenship."

There is a real need on the court for this kind of intellectual counterweight to Justice Scalia and his original intent theories. Justice Breyer is also providing a long-overdue response to politicians' bumper-sticker take on the courts: that conservative judges "interpret" the law, while liberal judges "make" it. (In reality, Justice Scalia has been one of the justices most willing to strike down Congressional statutes, while Justice Breyer has been the least willing.)

Justice Breyer may also find some unexpected allies on the court. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a moderate conservative, has shown some inclination to think in active liberty terms, particularly in his rulings on gay rights and the juvenile death penalty. And at his confirmation hearings, John Roberts talked about the importance of deferring to the political branches, saying that "a certain humility should characterize the judicial function."

In one of the book's most potent images, Justice Breyer argues that difficult public policy questions should be resolved through a great national conversation - what Alexis de Tocqueville described as the "tumult" that "you find yourself in the midst of" when "you descend ... on the soil of America." Through the Constitution, he says, the courts can help that conversation along. What we need more of, "Active Liberty" insists, is not activist judges, but activist citizens.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

CAU Will Be Open September 26th & 27th 2005

I understand that Governor Sonny Perdue has announced that he is closing all the state schools on Monday and Tuesday, September 26 and 27, in a fuel saving measure as a result of Hurricane Rita. This is a voluntary request on the governor's part.
Clark Atlanta University will be open and all faculty and staff are expected to report for work. I know that we are also feeling the impact of the fuel shortage and to the extent that you can work out carpooling arrangements, I encourage you to do so.
Dorcas D. Bowles

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This is an email I received from the CAU Provost Friday evening. School is open Monday and Tuesday. You must attend classes.

Professor John H. Armwood

Patrick Gaffey On The Dedication Of Many Americans To The Policies Of President Bush

On September 21, 2005, during a political discussion on the Miles Davis Discussion Listserv, a European participant wondered at the “unquestioning dedication” many Americans seem to feel toward their president.

An American participant, Patrick Gaffey, replied:

Terry, I sympathize with your difficulty in understanding America today.

A bizarre movement is sweeping America, based on a wildly exaggerated version of Romanticism: individualism idealized to the extreme. The Americans who are part of this movement tend to believe themselves America's most patriotic yet can trace most of their ideals back to the Confederacy and its attempt to destroy the US. Their beliefs frequently include a view of Christianity distorted as violently as the "Islamists" distort Islam, a view of Christianity which also traces back to the old South and attempts to justify slavery. A smaller, closely related, strain proclaim their rebel love for American freedom by displaying the icons of Nazi Germany on their motorcycles or pickup trucks.

Obviously the movement is as volatile as it could be. It brings together Fundamentalist Christians with atheists and Satanists. It brings the religion of Jesus cheek to cheek with a fanatical belief in the most soulless, hollow-eyed form of capitalism. It draws its unity and its strength from the reaction against the Civil Rights Movement and against the attempts in the Sixties to ameliorate some of the damage a century of Jim Crow did to Black America. As Richard Nixon wrenched the Republican Party out of its traditional alignment to take over the constituency of George Wallace by nominating first Clement F. Haynesworth, then G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court, theorists following in the wake of Barry Goldwater were completing a tower of bullshit, explaining why the Confederacy was justified in wanting to leave the US, why the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which finally made it possible for blacks in the South to vote, was unconstitutional, and why, as Ronald Reagan was soon to proclaim, the Federal Government is the problem, which placed him in the footsteps of the Confederates, along with a line of individualists from John Wilkes Booth to Jesse James to Tim McVeigh and Eric Robert Rudolph.

Think about the fact that Reagan is now one of the most popular of former presidents. Ronald Reagan. To find another American president to rate with Reagan, one must step outside the traditional line of the presidency and look at Jefferson Davis. When Reagan kicked off his winning presidential campaign, he thought long and hard about the symbolic importance of his first campaign speech, the one that would set the tone for everything to come. Where would he give the speech? What would he say, that would crystalize for all time the ideals for which he stood? He decided to kick off his campaign in Philadelphia. No, not Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, cradle of American liberty. No. Philadelphia, Mississippi, known to all American for one event. It was the home of the cretins who tortured and murdered three civil rights workers and buried them in a dam in the summer of 1964.

And what did Ronald Reagan say in Philadelphia in 1980, 16 years after the murders? Did he express his regret and sadness for the tragedy and the loss? Did he denounce the killings of three men who were working to advance the all-American right to vote? Did he denounce murderers? Lawbreakers? Mobs? Vigilantes? Disturbers of the peace?

Despite traveling to an obscure town known for only one event, in his speech he never mentioned that event. He never mentioned its victims. The point of his speech was that the people of Philadelphia, Mississippi, did not need the Federal Government sending its voting registrars and investigators to their town to disturb their way of life. He went to Philadelphia to stand up for freedom--for the freedom of the white people of Philadelphia to go on living as they always had.

I don't hate George Bush, but I always will hate Ronald Reagan, if only for that one speech. And today Ronald Reagan is the president held up by millions as the greatest American president. And Ronald Reagan is the spiritual father of the movement which put George Bush, via the Supreme Court, into the White House.

But why, you ask, would Americans defend any president so passionately as some defend Bush, in a postmodern world in which we see so clearly the flaws in everyone? The answer lies in the brilliant little book The True Believer by Eric Hoffer, written in the wake of WWII to consider the twin phenomena of Communism and Fascism. He also spends a good deal of space on religious fanaticism, notably Christian and Islamic. He notes that most assume that a follower who would die for his faith must indeed be a true believer. But then he proceeds to explain that eagerness to die for one's beliefs indicates exactly the opposite: that the "true believer" is filled with doubts. He can only quell his doubts and prove to himself that he really believes--which, of course, he doesn't--by going to the farthest extreme. When you see a fanatical adherent who responds to challenges by becoming more fanatical, whose voice rises to the pitch of hysteria, you know you are seeing someone with deep questions about their position. Followers of the mishmash of "conservative" philosophies represented by George Bush are willing to defend him to a point beyond logic because they don't know how else to quash their own painful doubts.

By Patrick Gaffey

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I found this response to the European's bewilderment to be both eloquent and right on point. I have published it with Mr. Gaffey's express permission.

Professor John H. Armwood

Saturday, September 24, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Perdue tells schools to close, save gas

CBS 46 Atlanta - Perdue tells schools to close, save gasPerdue tells schools to close, save gas
Sep 23, 2005, 06:01 PM

ATLANTA (AP) -- Governor Perdue asked the state's schools to take two "early snow days" and cancel classes Monday and Tuesday to help conserve gasoline as Hurricane Rita threatens the nation's fuel supply line.

If all of Georgia's schools close, the governor estimated about 250-thousand gallons of diesel fuel would be saved each day by keeping buses off the road.

The governor also said an undetermined amount of regular gasoline also would be saved by allowing teachers, other school staff members and some parents to stay home those days. Electricity also would be conserved by keeping the schools closed.

It's up to each school superintendent to decide whether to call off classes.

Perdue said -- quote -- "If Georgians stick together, work together and conserve together we can weather whatever problems Rita brings our way with the least possible inconvenience."

As he did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Perdue asked the state's residents to limit nonessential travel and look for commute alternatives including telecommuting, car pooling and four-day work weeks.

He said if people reduce demand, -- quote -- "we will have enough market power to hold prices down. All together, we can influence demand within our state."

Tim Callahan, spokesman for the 61-thousand-member Professional Association of Georgia Educators, said he worried Perdue's announcement would only prompt panic-buying at the pumps in the days ahead.

Callahan said -- quote -- "I wonder if it's going to create the type of panic that we saw a few weeks back that drove prices over three dollars." Callahan was referring to the long gas lines and record-high prices that came in the days following Hurricane Katrina.

When gas prices jumped back after Hurricane Katrina, Perdue suspended the state's gas tax -- about 15 cents per gallon -- and the state's Legislature quickly approved the measure in a special session.

While several other states had considered taking similar action, Georgia was the only state to suspend its gas tax. The state's monthlong gas-tax holiday expires September 30th.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Georgia photo ID law attacked in court

CBS 46 Atlanta - Georgia photo ID law attacked in courtGeorgia photo ID law attacked in court
Sep 20, 2005, 12:07 PM

ATLANTA (AP) -- A group of voter and civil rights organizations filed suit in federal court Monday seeking to overturn a new state law requiring voters to show photo IDs to vote.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in northwest Georgia's Rome on the same day that a commission co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgia native, recommended a national requirement for voters to show photo IDs.

"Photographic identification as a requirement for voting is antidemocratic and prevents people from exercising their fundamental right to vote whether proposed by the General Assembly of the state of Georgia or the Carter-Baker commission," said Daniel Levitas of the American Civil Liberties Union's voting rights project.

The new Georgia law was approved this year by the first Legislature since Reconstruction under complete Republican control and after fierce opposition, including a brief walkout, by Democrats.

It eliminated the use of several previously accepted forms of identification to vote, including Social Security cards, birth certificates and utility bills, and required voters to produce a picture ID such as a driver's license, military identification or state-issued identification card.

The Justice Department, required to review election law changes in Georgia and other states with a history of racial discrimination, gave Georgia the go-ahead to implement the law.

The suit, filed by organizations including Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, contends the law violates provisions of both the state and national Constitutions.

In addition, the suit claims the law effectively imposes an illegal poll tax on those without state-issued ID cards such as a driver's license who now must pay $20 for a five-year state-issued photo ID card or $35 for a 10-year card.

The state says it is issuing free ID cards to those who can't pay the fee, but the suit argues those people still incur transportation expenses in traveling to a site where they can obtain a card.

Dan McLagan, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, said the law is intended to deter voter fraud.

"Requiring an ID to vote is common sense and has been instituted in other states," he said. "Under the old system, you could pluck a utility bill out of somebody's trash can and cast a vote."

House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, called the law "a common sense measure" and denounced the suit as "liberal special interests using unconscionable scare tactics to frighten Georgia voters."

Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat who hopes to challenge Perdue for re-election next year, said she continues to view the new requirement as unnecessary and unwise.

"This provision will make it harder for many Georgians to vote, especially the elderly and those who live in rural areas," she said.

Carter, who chaired an election reform commission along with former Secretary of State James Baker, said in Washington Monday that requiring photo IDs was one of the most important and most difficult of his group's recommendations.

"We addressed this with a great deal of hesitancy," he said, adding that "24 states already require photo ID and 12 others are considering it." Carter said a national approach would prevent states from putting in laws that are discriminatory.

Another former Democratic president, Bill Clinton, has called Georgia's law "just wrong."

"They're cutting lots of folks out of that vote," Clinton said during an appearance in August as a guest on the Rev. Jesse Jackson's syndicated radio show.

Georgia's requirement is unique, said Tim Storey, senior fellow at the National Council of State Legislatures.

He said that of the states that require voters to show identification, only five besides Georgia request photo ID. Those states -- Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, South Carolina and South Dakota -- allow voters without a photo ID to use other forms of identification or sign an affidavit of identity.

Other states that require voters to present IDs are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, Storey said. In some cases, a voter registration card or birth certificate is sufficient.

Denying Access to the Ballot - New York Times

Denying Access to the Ballot - New York TimesSeptember 20, 2005
Denying Access to the Ballot

It has been clear since 2000 that the election system is in serious need of reform. But the commission led by James Baker III and former President Jimmy Carter has come up with a plan that is worse than no reform at all. Its good ideas are outweighed by one very bad idea: a voter identification requirement that would prevent large numbers of poor, black and elderly people from voting.

The commission makes helpful recommendations. It favors requiring electronic voting machines to produce paper records, and opposes partisan activity by state election officials. It fails to address other problems, like not counting provisional ballots cast at the wrong precincts.

But the bombshell recommendation is for the states to require voters to have drivers' licenses or a government-issued photo ID. That would not be a great burden for people who have drivers' licenses, but it would be for those who don't, and they are disproportionately poor, elderly or members of minorities. These voters would have to get special photo ID's and keep them updated. If they didn't have the ID's, their right to vote would be taken away. The commission recommends that the cards be free. But election administration is notoriously underfinanced, and it is not hard to imagine that states would charge for them. Georgia is already charging $20 and more for each of its state voter cards.

There is very little evidence of voters' claiming to be people they are not, and the commission admits that its members are divided about how big a problem it is. But the report goes on to say that even if there is just a small amount of fraud, it should be stopped. True, but if the solution risks disenfranchising hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of voters, it is a very bad reform.

There are more reasonable approaches. The states could require uniform ID's, but allow each voter without one to sign an affidavit attesting to his or her identity, a system some states use now. It is little wonder that a dissent came from the former Democratic leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle, a commission member. He said that "for some, the commission's ID proposal constitutes nothing short of a modern-day poll tax."

The disappointing report made public yesterday was not a complete surprise. There have been red flags waving around the commission for some time; Mr. Baker is remembered by many for his fierce fight to stop the counting of votes in Florida in 2000. There have also been complaints about the commission's process. Spencer Overton, a George Washington University law professor and commission member, complains that he was told he had to limit a dissent on complicated voting issues to just 250 words.

The purpose of election reform should not be making it harder to vote. We all have a duty to make our election system as good as it can be - and not to disenfranchise people in the name of reform.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tragedy in Black and White - New York Times

Tragedy in Black and White - New York TimesSeptember 19, 2005
Tragedy in Black and White
By PAUL KRUGMAN

By three to one, African-Americans believe that federal aid took so long to arrive in New Orleans in part because the city was poor and black. By an equally large margin, whites disagree.

The truth is that there's no way to know. Maybe President Bush would have been mugging with a guitar the day after the levees broke even if New Orleans had been a mostly white city. Maybe Palm Beach would also have had to wait five days after a hurricane hit before key military units received orders to join rescue operations.

But in a larger sense, the administration's lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina had a lot to do with race. For race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need.

Race, after all, was central to the emergence of a Republican majority: essentially, the South switched sides after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, states that had slavery in 1860 are much more likely to vote Republican than states that didn't.

And who can honestly deny that race is a major reason America treats its poor more harshly than any other advanced country? To put it crudely: a middle-class European, thinking about the poor, says to himself, "There but for the grace of God go I." A middle-class American is all too likely to think, perhaps without admitting it to himself, "Why should I be taxed to support those people?"

Above all, race-based hostility to the idea of helping the poor created an environment in which a political movement hostile to government aid in general could flourish.

By all accounts Ronald Reagan, who declared in his Inaugural Address that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," wasn't personally racist. But he repeatedly used a bogus tale about a Cadillac-driving Chicago "welfare queen" to bash big government. And he launched his 1980 campaign with a pro-states'-rights speech in Philadelphia, Miss., a small town whose only claim to fame was the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers.

Under George W. Bush - who, like Mr. Reagan, isn't personally racist but relies on the support of racists - the anti-government right has reached a new pinnacle of power. And the incompetent response to Katrina was the direct result of his political philosophy. When an administration doesn't believe in an agency's mission, the agency quickly loses its ability to perform that mission.

By now everyone knows that the Bush administration treated the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a dumping ground for cronies and political hacks, leaving the agency incapable of dealing with disasters. But FEMA's degradation isn't unique. It reflects a more general decline in the competence of government agencies whose job is to help people in need.

For example, housing for Katrina refugees is one of the most urgent problems now facing the nation. The FEMAvilles springing up across the gulf region could all too easily turn into squalid symbols of national failure. But the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which should be a source of expertise in tackling this problem, has been reduced to a hollow shell, with eight of its principal staff positions vacant.

But let me not blame the Bush administration for everything. The sad truth is that the only exceptional thing about the neglect of our fellow citizens we saw after Katrina struck is that for once the consequences of that neglect were visible on national TV.

Consider this: in the United States, unlike any other advanced country, many people fail to receive basic health care because they can't afford it. Lack of health insurance kills many more Americans each year than Katrina and 9/11 combined.

But the health care crisis hasn't had much effect on politics. And one reason is that it isn't yet a crisis among middle-class, white Americans (although it's getting there). Instead, the worst effects are falling on the poor and black, who have third-world levels of infant mortality and life expectancy.

I'd like to believe that Katrina will change everything - that we'll all now realize how important it is to have a government committed to helping those in need, whatever the color of their skin. But I wouldn't bet on it.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I disagree with the author regarding Ronald Reagan. In my opinion he both expressed racist attitudes and pandered to other racists. His launching of his first presidential campaign in a town famous for racist murders and his declaring in that location his support for states rights was intentional. His active weakening of the Federal Civil Rights Commision and his attacks against the poor both in word and deed reflected racist attitudes. George W. Bush may not be a racist but he clearly is willing to tolerate racists in his ruling, Republican coalition. The reinvention of Ronald Reagan as a decent fair minded human being by liberals has been quite disturbing for me to observe. Reagan has remained the teflon president in death as he was in life. Here is a link to an article I wrote concering Ronald Reagan immediately following his death. http://armwood.blogspot.com/2004/07/my-remembrance-of-ronald-reagan.html

Professor John H. Armwood

Clinton Levels Sharp Criticism at the President's Relief Effort - New York Times

Clinton Levels Sharp Criticism at the President's Relief Effort - New York TimesSeptember 19, 2005
Clinton Levels Sharp Criticism at the President's Relief Effort
By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 - Former President Bill Clinton, asked by President Bush to help raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, offered harsh criticism of the administration's disaster-relief effort on Sunday, saying "you can't have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people up."

Mr. Clinton's comments in an interview on the ABC News program "This Week" could prove awkward for the White House, given President Bush's eagerness to involve his Democratic predecessor in a high-profile role to raise money for the hurricane's victims. His remarks came days after the president gave a televised speech from New Orleans, trying to seize the momentum amid other attacks on the administration's performance.

The White House has been under siege from critics, assailed first for the effectiveness of its response to the storm, and challenged more recently by questions about the long-term fiscal implications of its plans for rebuilding in the Gulf states.

Mr. Clinton argued that lower-income Americans had done better under the economic policies of his administration than they are doing now, saying the storm highlighted class divisions in the country that often played out along racial lines.

"It's like when they issued the evacuation order," he said. "That affects poor people differently. A lot of them in New Orleans didn't have cars. A lot of them who had cars had kinfolk they had to take care of. They didn't have cars, so they couldn't take them out."

"This is a matter of public policy," he said. "And whether it's race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made. That's what they did in the 80's; that's what they've done in this decade. In the middle, we had a different policy."

The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, did not respond directly to Mr. Clinton's remarks about the hurricane-relief effort or mention the former president by name. But in a statement on Sunday, Mr. McClellan suggested it was unfair to link the plight of low-income victims of the hurricane to the economic policies of the Bush administration.

"There is a deep history of injustice that has led to poverty and inequality, and it will not be overcome instantly," he said, adding that President Bush "from Day 1 has been acting boldly to achieve real results for all Americans."

He added, "Do we think in new and bold ways by focusing on innovative programs that work for all Americans, or do we embrace failed policies of the past which have resulted in too many being left behind?"

Throughout Mr. Bush's presidency, Mr. Clinton has often been critical of his successor, and he repeated many of those criticisms in the Sunday interview in discussing the invasion of Iraq, the growing federal deficit and other issues. But it was the directness of his criticism of President Bush's policies related to domestic disaster relief that appeared most likely to cause aggravation at the White House.

Noting statistics that showed a significant drop in poverty during his presidency, Mr. Clinton said, "You can't have an emergency plan that works if it only affects middle-class people up, and when you tell people to go do something they don't have the means to do, you're going to leave the poor out."

Mr. Clinton has reunited with President Bush's father, former President George H. W. Bush, in a fund-raising campaign for Katrina victims, much as they worked together to raise millions of dollars for relief efforts after the Asian tsunami last year. Mr. Clinton said the two had raised $90 million to $100 million so far for hurricane victims.

Mr. Clinton drew a sharp distinction between the performance of the government's disaster-relief agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in his administration and today. "I think we did a good job of disaster management," he said.

While not using the name of Michael D. Brown, the FEMA director who resigned last Monday after criticism of his performance in the Katrina disaster, Mr. Clinton praised the performance of his FEMA director, James Lee Witt, and said Mr. Witt had been especially sensitive to the needs of low-income people because "both of us came out of environments with a disproportionate number of poor people."

Mr. Clinton said he was especially disturbed that many of the people who lost homes in the hurricane had no property insurance.

"Everything they owned was in their little home," he said. "And if we really wanted to do it right, we would have had lots of buses lined up to take them out and also lots of empty vans" to save the belongings of those with no home or flood insurance.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Too Much of a Mystery - New York Times

Too Much of a Mystery - New York TimesSeptember 18, 2005
Too Much of a Mystery

John Roberts failed to live up to the worst fears of his critics in his confirmation hearings last week. But in many important areas where senators wanted to be reassured that he would be a careful guardian of Americans' rights, he refused to give any solid indication of his legal approach. That makes it difficult to decide whether he should be confirmed. Weighing the pluses and minuses and the many, many unanswered questions, and considering some of the alternatives, a responsible senator might still conclude that he warrants approval. But the unknowns about Mr. Roberts's views remain troubling, especially since he is being nominated not merely to the Supreme Court, but to be chief justice. That position is too important to entrust to an enigma, which is what Mr. Roberts remains.

Few lawyers in America can compete with Mr. Roberts in professional accomplishments. After getting college and law degrees at Harvard, he clerked for Justice William Rehnquist on the Supreme Court, and then became a top lawyer in the Reagan administration, deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration, and partner in a prestigious law firm. He has served two years on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

If the test were legal skill alone, Mr. Roberts would certainly pass. But the Senate and the American people have a right to know whether he would use his abilities to defend core rights and liberties, or to narrow them. There may be a debate on Capitol Hill on this point, but popular opinion is clear. In a New York Times/CBS News poll, 46 percent said it was "very important" for senators to know Mr. Roberts's "position on issues such as abortion and affirmative action." Another 31 percent said it was "somewhat important." Only 13 percent said it was not important at all.

It has been difficult for senators to extricate his views. During his brief term as a judge, he has written few notable opinions. The White House has refused to release the memorandums he wrote in the solicitor general's office, which could have been revealing. Memos from earlier in his career raise red flags on issues like civil rights, women's rights and the right to privacy - which he dismissed, at one point, as the "so-called 'right to privacy.' " When confronted with this record, he often gave the impression of having moderated his views, but stopped well short. More recently, as a judge, in a case involving the Endangered Species Act, he threw doubt on Congress's power to protect the environment in important ways. In another case, he upheld the arrest of a 12-year-old girl in the Washington subway for eating a single French fry.

Given these concerns about his record, Mr. Roberts needed to use the hearings to reassure the American people in a substantive way that he would be a vigilant guardian of their rights. He did sound some positive notes. He promised that he would not be an ideologue on the court, and that he hoped to build greater consensus. He supported Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case holding that married people have a right to buy and use contraception, though he was unwilling to commit to a right to privacy that includes much more.

Over days of testimony, he dodged and weaved around many other critical legal issues. On abortion, church-state separation, gay rights and the right of illegal immigrants' children to attend public school - all currently recognized by the court - he asks to be accepted on faith. That just isn't good enough. The Constitution says that senators must give their "advice and consent" to Supreme Court nominees. To do that in a meaningful way in the case of Mr. Roberts, they need information that has been withheld from them.

If he is confirmed, we think there is a chance Mr. Roberts could be a superb chief justice. But it is a risk. We might be reluctant to roll the dice even for a nomination for associate justice, but for a nomination for a chief justice - particularly one who could serve 30 or more years - the stakes are simply too high. Senators should vote against Mr. Roberts not because they know he does not have the qualities to be an excellent chief justice, but because he has not met the very heavy burden of proving that he does.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Supreme Court's Biggest Question - New York Times

The Supreme Court's Biggest Question - New York TimesSeptember 18, 2005
The Supreme Court's Biggest Question
By TODD S. PURDUM
WASHINGTON — He had the right to remain silent. He knew that everything he said could and would be used against (and for) him. And yet, when Judge John G. Roberts Jr. was asked last week by Senator Arlen Specter, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, whether he believed the "right to privacy" existed in the Constitution, Mr. Roberts replied, "Senator, I do."

History suggests that if he had not, Judge Roberts would have sunk his chances to become the 17th chief justice of the United States just 20 minutes into his 20 hours of confirmation testimony. So many Americans - and so many senators - now accept that concept as an organizing principle of modern life and law that Robert H. Bork's confirmation as an associate justice collapsed 18 years ago this month in the face of his refusal to find such a right.

But the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution itself: Privacy to do just what, and with whom, under what circumstances, with the benefit of what technology? There's the rub, as Judge Roberts reflected: He endorsed Griswold v. Connecticut, the 40-year-old Supreme Court decision that enshrined married couples' right to use contraception, but steered clear of embracing the more controversial rulings that have grown - or may yet grow - out of it involving abortion, gay sex and the right to die.

"Where we're talking about private heterosexual conduct, we're not in a debate," said Pauline Maier, a historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies America's founding era. "But the controversy comes in those areas where people feel the private activity has an impact on the fabric of society as a whole, and that's where liberals and conservatives disagree. Fundamentalist Christians say homosexuality is awful and will damage society, and liberals say, 'If that's who they want to sleep with, let them.' "

The phrase "right to privacy" first appeared in an 1890 Harvard Law Review article by Louis D. Brandeis and his law partner, Samuel D. Warren. And as Judge Roberts noted, the notion began flowering 80 years ago in Supreme Court decisions that struck down laws that required children to attend only public schools and barred the teaching of foreign languages in elementary school, on the grounds that they violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law."

Such reasoning eventually led to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, and for which "privacy" has become neutral-sounding shorthand. It was that precedent that propelled the line of questioning by Senator Specter, a moderate Republican and ardent supporter of abortion rights. But, as Judge Roberts also noted, concepts of privacy are at least as old as the Bill of Rights, and vitally important to libertarian conservatives, who resist government intrusions like the Clinton administration's raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Tex., or the Bush administration's Patriot Act after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

That is one reason that Judge Roberts's conservative supporters, while perhaps not thrilled with some of his answers, did not rush to condemn him, either. Some of them view Griswold as the Warren Court's sloppy first step down the slippery slope that led to Roe. But they were quick to note approvingly (as Judge Roberts's critics did with concern) that Clarence Thomas had embraced the privacy right outlined in Griswold in his own confirmation hearings 14 years ago, while refusing to extend it just two years ago to cover consensual gay sex.

"I thought his answers on the privacy issue were pretty good, and were satisfying to me," said Leonard Leo, a lawyer who is on leave from a position at the conservative Federalist Society to help coordinate support for Judge Roberts. He noted that, in response to intensive questioning by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, Judge Roberts had resisted endorsing a "general right of privacy," which Mr. Leo said was "very indicative of his skepticism about the way in which post-Griswold jurisprudence has developed."

"I don't think there's much of a dispute that privacy is embedded in the Constitution and manifests itself in a number of different ways," Mr. Leo added. "It's heartening that what Judge Roberts was trying to do was tie the concept to specific clauses in the Constitution. He recognizes that privacy is not synonymous with abortion. It's about search and seizure; it's about the Third Amendment's ban on the quartering of troops, it's about the First Amendment and freedom of religion."

Forrest McDonald, a constitutional historian who retired two years ago from the University of Alabama, noted that privacy has been a "vexed question" from the earliest days of the republic. The framers believed in protection of home and hearth from government intrusion, but also granted "police powers that were pretty broad, and pretty extreme."

"In 1789, they didn't have such things, but the people of Connecticut would have felt perfectly free to regulate the use of contraceptives as immoral behavior," he added. "Our whole standards and our sexual attitudes have changed." And therein lies the problem in adapting an 18th-century document and concepts of freedom to the 21st century.

"My leanings are toward the so-called originalist positions in constitutional interpretation," Professor McDonald said, "but you can't really be an originalist if you know what it originally was." He said, given his field of study, that he had "lived in the 18th century most of my adult life." And he added: "I love these guys. But there were an awful lot of things they took for granted that I just couldn't live with. I own 20 acres of land, and I'm sitting right in the middle of it. In the 18th century, my neighbors would have had the right to cross it to gather wood, let their hogs and cows run across it, cross it to get somewhere else."

In his opening statement in the confirmation hearings, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware suggested as much, when he traced the 20th-century court's evolving notions of privacy, then posed pointed rhetorical questions to Judge Roberts about the future: Can a microscopic tag be implanted in a person's body to track his every movement? Can brain scans be used to determine whether a person is inclined toward criminality or violent behavior?

"You will rule on that," Mr. Biden said.

Kermit T. Hall, president of the State University at Albany and an expert on the Constitution, predicted that 30 years from now, a Roberts court would be judged by "the stands that it took with regard to the issues of individual personhood - for me, privacy - and the technological revolution." There will be a range of issues, from the right of universities to peer over the shoulders of students sharing computer files to new pregnancy-ending technologies and life-preserving treatments that might make abortion as it is now understood moot, but even more troubling to some.

"The ethical issues become considerably differently placed, and profoundly stretched, when you anticipate the technology of sustaining life at an earlier and earlier period and, who knows, we may actually discover that cognizance begins in the womb," he said.

Brandeis and Warren's law review article was written in response to advances in photography that allowed swifter and sharper invasions of privacy than ever before. "Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life," they wrote, "and numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that 'what is whispered from the closet shall be proclaimed from the housetops.' "

So it is perhaps a fitting reminder of that fear that only last week, a journalist's telephoto lens captured President Bush at the United Nations, jotting a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he might need a "bathroom break," and the Reuters news agency enhanced the image and beamed it around the world.

"The principle which protects personal writings and all other personal productions, not against theft and physical appropriation, but against publication in any form," Brandeis and Warren wrote, "is in reality not the principle of private property, but that of an inviolate personality." Senators weighing Judge Roberts's nomination must now decide whether he has surrendered just enough privacy to give them a sense of his.

Black Leaders Say Storm Forced Bush to Confront Issues of Race and Poverty - New York Times

Black Leaders Say Storm Forced Bush to Confront Issues of Race and Poverty - New York TimesSeptember 18, 2005
Black Leaders Say Storm Forced Bush to Confront Issues of Race and Poverty
By ELISABETH BUMILLER and ANNE E. KORNBLUT

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 - Hurricane Katrina has forced President Bush to confront the issues of race and poverty in a way that has shaken his presidency and altered his priorities, African-American leaders of both parties said this week.

One of the most striking developments, they said, was that while Mr. Bush still calls himself a "compassionate conservative" who sees the problems of blacks as largely economic, in the last three days he embraced civil rights language from the 1960's about "the legacy of inequality" and pledged billions of dollars to rebuild one of the poorest urban areas in America.

Many black leaders, who have newfound political leverage at the White House in the wake of the storm, cautiously applauded. But they said Mr. Bush's promises of help on housing, education, taxes and job training in two speeches - a prime-time address in New Orleans on Thursday night and remarks at a day of remembrance for storm victims at Washington's National Cathedral on Friday - were only the beginning.

"Katrina has posed a challenge to the White House and the country regarding the great divide, which is race and class in America," said the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, the president of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, a coalition that represents primarily black churches. "It's a challenge and an opportunity which can be won or lost, and ultimately it is the decision of the White House as to which way it goes."

Leaders like Mr. Rivers, a Democrat and a supporter of Mr. Bush, said the White House still had serious repair work to do among blacks after the images of the desperate and dying victims of the hurricane so shocked the nation and the world. A major first step, they said, was to include blacks in the millions of dollars in contracts to rebuild New Orleans.

"President Bush needs to ensure that we do not see racial divisions reproduced in the reconstruction effort as white millionaires get richer," Mr. Rivers said.

T. D. Jakes, the black television evangelist who delivered the sermon before Mr. Bush's speech at the National Cathedral, issued a similar warning. "I do think that African-Americans are waiting to see what this administration is going to do about this crisis," Bishop Jakes said Friday. "If the appropriate actions are taken in an expeditious, competent way, I think then our community will re-evaluate our opinions of this administration."

But Mr. Bush, who specifically noted in his speech that the federal government's rebuilding effort would include loans to minority-owned businesses, has already drawn criticism for his administration's decision to suspend the Davis-Bacon Act, the law that requires employers to pay the local prevailing wage to construction workers on federally financed projects.

The White House rationale for the decision, announced Thursday, was not only to reduce the cost to taxpayers for the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, estimated at as much as $200 billion, but to open up the bidding to minority-owned businesses that have not historically contracted with the federal government.

That explanation did not satisfy critics of Mr. Bush like the Rev. Jesse Jackson. "It's a hurricane for the poor and a windfall for the rich," Mr. Jackson said after the president's speech in New Orleans. Mr. Jackson likened the structure for assistance to the region, federal financial aid managed under local control in the states, to the post-Reconstruction era that allowed segregation to take hold in the South.

At the very least, black leaders said, Hurricane Katrina set back the long-term plans of Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, and Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, to bring more blacks, a longtime Democratic constituency, into the Republican fold.

Before the hurricane, their plan appeared to be working on the margins: Mr. Bush received 9 percent of the black vote in 2000 and 11 percent in 2004, an increase that Republicans attribute in part to their courting of conservative black religious leaders like Bishop Jakes and money sent to black churches and charities through a White House religion-based initiative.

Republican political strategists point out that many middle-class blacks have views on social and economic issues that are consistent with those of Republicans, even if blacks as a group have traditionally voted for Democrats.

"The fact is, there are millions of African-Americans who are conservative, who are with the Republican Party on a number of issues, and agree with us that the path to prosperity is a path based on opportunity and ownership and empowerment," Mr. Mehlman said.

Like other supporters of Mr. Bush, Mr. Mehlman said he was outraged by the charges of racism at the White House, which increased after the president's mother, Barbara Bush, said in a radio interview that many of the people she had seen while touring a Houston relocation site were faring better than before the storm hit. "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them," Mrs. Bush said.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, distanced Mr. Bush from his mother's comment by calling it a "personal observation," while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the administration's most prominent African-American, vehemently rejected any suggestion that Mr. Bush would discriminate on the basis of race.

"I find it very strange to think that people would think that the president of the United States would sit deciding who ought to be helped on the basis of color, most especially this president," Ms. Rice said in an interview at The New York Times on Monday. "What evidence is there that this is the case? Why would you say such a thing?"

Some African Americans say that, remarkably, the hurricane has had the effect of pushing Mr. Bush to propose such sweeping Great Society-type programs - the president called on Thursday for an Urban Homesteading Act to provide free land for low-income storm victims - that conservative members of his own party are in an uproar about the expense. Until now, Mr. Bush's chief poverty program was the No Child Left Behind Act, an education initiative that is meant to largely benefit disadvantaged minority students.

"We've all known that there are these big pockets of isolated deprivation and disadvantage in the country," said John DiIulio, the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. "Everybody seems to have taken their crack at it, but certain aspects of the poverty problem are stubborn. The reality is, having everybody wake up to the problem is a good thing. I know it's fashionable in Washington to see differences, but I've always felt there's a lot more goodwill and a lot more possibility for statesmanship. This crisis I think is going to bring that out."

Whatever happens, both blacks and whites said, the hurricane has defined Mr. Bush's second term, for better or worse.

"There are usually two ways that presidents do important things," said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian. "One is that they see an urgent need, and they bring it before the public and address it. Other times it's an incident that changes the country, and changes the presidency."