Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

America's Fatigue in the Fight Against Racism

White House
White House “The stated purpose of the Civil War Amendments was to arm Congress with the power and authority to protect all persons within the Nation from violations of their rights by the States,” writes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent against the five justices who ruled to overturn Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) today. The reason for citing this fact of history is straightforward: In it resides the core dispute of Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder , the case decided by the Supreme Court this morning. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was the last of the three Civil War amendments and arguably the most controversial. It was one thing to emancipate the slaves (the Thirteenth Amendment) or guarantee equal protection under the law (the Fourteenth Amendment), but the Fifteenth granted suffrage to black men, which was a bridge too far for many whites, in both the North and South. To Southern politicians of the time, it was “the most revolutionary measure” to...

Ed Markey is Not Martha Coakley

Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
Three years ago, a special election to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate resulted in a surprise winner, Republican Scott Brown, and the near-death of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care reform law. Brown’s win was the work of several elements. In addition to strong skills as a candidate, he had the advantage of Tea Party enthusiasm, anti-Obama fatigue, and a complacent Democratic Party, which fielded Martha Coakley, a weak candidate who compounded her problems by refusing to campaign. Today, Massachusetts voters—or at least, a small subset of them—will again head to the polls to choose a replacement senator, this time for John Kerry, the long-serving Democrat who joined President Obama’s cabinet as Secretary of State at the beginning of the year. And again, Massachusetts Democrats have chosen a party stalwart to lead the charge—Representative Ed Markey, a 37-year veteran of Congress, who has spent most of his adult life in elected office. He faces Gabriel...

Is Racism Over? The Supreme Court says, "Who knows?"

AP Images/Susan Walsh
For the Supreme Court, the key question in Fisher v. University of Texas was this: “Is diversity in college admissions a compelling interest for the government, and are race-conscious policies a legitimate way of pursuing that interest?” Put another way, is racism over and do we still have to deal with it? To my—and many other’s—surprise, the Court decided to sidestep this question. Rather than support UT’s claim that its race-conscious policies fall within the Court’s standards for affirmative action, or Fisher’s claim that race-consciousness has no place in the business of college admissions, the Supreme Court—in a 7–1 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy—sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on a technicality. Writing for the majority , Kennedy notes that the University of Texas’ affirmative action plan could only withstand constitutional scrutiny if “no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” The problem...

The GOP Loses Big if Immigration Reform Fails

As a member of the Gang of Eight, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham is one of the most prominent Republican proponents of comprehensive immigration reform. His motives are straightforward: For the GOP to stay competitive, it needs to make inroads with Latino voters. Creating a path to citizenship for existing immigrants—and smoothing the process for future ones—is the only way Republicans can begin to repair their relationship with a community that has been alienated by the party’s harsh—sometimes xenophobic—rhetoric on immigration. Graham’s latest word on the subject was yesterday, on Fox News Sunday , where he warned Republicans of what would happen if they failed to get behind the comprehensive reform bill currently making its way through the Senate. “If it fails,” he said, “and [Republicans] are blamed for its failure, our party is in trouble with Hispanics; not because we are conservative but because of the rhetoric and the way we’ve handled this issue.” Insofar that there...

Americans Disagree and That's OK

Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect
I’ve written before about the odd focus political pundits have on President Obama’s culpability for the current era of partisan and hyper-polarization, despite the fact of categorical Republican opposition to nearly everything that comes from the White House. John Harwood’s piece on Obama’s travel schedule —there are deep red states the president has never visited—is the latest entry in this genre. In fairness, it’s better than most, since Harwood acknowledges the existence of Republican obstruction. Still, the basic idea—that Obama has contributed to polarization by ignoring certain states—puts far too much weight on the president’s ability to change public opinion (which is limited), and not enough on the reality of genuine disagreement between different groups of Americans. Here’s Harwood in his own words: Mr. Obama has not given North Dakota his time. It is one of six states he has not visited as president, along with South Dakota, Arkansas, Idaho, South Carolina and Utah. He has...

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