NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE’S CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARDS. Last night at a reception in Washington, D.C. to kickoff their annual State of Black America report, National Urban League President Marc Morial and Senior Vice President for Policy Chanelle Hardy presented seven awards to members of Congress and political activists.
Awards were given to NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill for her work on voting rights and Laura Murphy, the Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. Members of Congress including Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
All the elected official who were award recipients were Democrats who have worked on issues of criminal justice, voting rights and education and employment equity their entire careers. But one Republican was also included: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.
Sensenbrenner, 70, a wealthy conservative Republican from Wisconsin, is the lead Republican working on the reauthorization fix for the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act signed by Lyndon Johnson and pushed into enactment by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yesterday, the Roberts Court made another dubious decision related to the Democratic process: They made it even easier to get even more money into politics.
Sensenbrenner, who has been a member of the House for 35 years, represents the common sense wing of Republicans of the Reagan era. Unlike many new Tea Party members who facilitated the Republican majority in the U.S. House in 2010 who refuse to compromise on any policy, Sensenbrenner is pushing for a Voting Rights Act fix in the House.
While other Republican House members are more interested in disagreeing with President Obama while getting nothing done, Sensenbrenner has attempted to do something despite gridlock. The Congressman was not present for last night’s award ceremony. He is also the Chairman of a special select House task force on Over-Criminalization.