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Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged that he bought Instagram to avoid competitors

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Facebook and has been touring the courts for a few years on different issues.



Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged that he bought Instagram to avoid competitors

is the founder and CEO of Facebook and has been touring the courts for a few years on different issues. He has had to give explanations about the Cambridge Analytica case , uncovering a strong controversy, and now he is before the authorities of the United States Government investigating monopoly cases. 

In 2012, Facebook had a large user base, but the truth is that its presence in the mobile market was rather testimonial . On the other hand, Foursquare, Pinterest or not only moved well in this area, but some were created expressly for use on mobile devices, smartphones that were beginning to take off and for which the Facebook of the time had no responsiveness . 

I just need to decide if we buy Instagram . We will regret not doing it because it can do us a lot of significant harm even if it doesn’t become big business, ” Zuckerberg wrote in an email to Facebook chief financial officer David Ebersman in early 2012. And, as they say, the rest is history.

As The Verge has published , in 2012 there was already an interest in not being accused of monopoly (something that Microsoft had to face years ago for practices very similar to those of Facebook and Ebersman knew this well. Zuckerberg affirmed, in addition to the fact that Companies like Instagram could harm Facebook , which inspired by their success, the creators would not want to sell, but would consider it if they were offered a high enough price, such as $ 500 or $ 1 billion, in the end, it was $ 1 billion.

Ebersman wanted to ‘reassure’ Zuckerberg with a series of questions in which he asked him about the reasons, if it had to do with integrating Instagram products and other possible purchases within Facebook to improve Facebook, if he wanted to acquire talent or if he was simply a mechanism to neutralize a potential competitor.

Of the three questions, only two were less bad , the first two, since an affirmative answer to the third is a monopolistic practice, which is precisely what the commission is currently investigating, setting the ‘Big Four’ ( Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple) in the dock of the interrogations.

And yes, as you can imagine at this point in the film, Zuckerberg’s most obvious idea was to neutralize the competition by means of a purchase. Specifically, Zuckerberg’s response was:

There is a network effect around social products and a finite number of mechanics to invent. Once someone becomes the leader of that mechanic, it is difficult for others to supplant it without doing something different. We are buying time because, even if they arise Other , buying Instagram, Path, Foursquare, etc. will now give us another year of advantage to integrate their dynamics before any other approaches that scale. If we do, any new product will not have much traction, since we will have the original mechanics implemented on a large scale . “

That statement shows a monopolistic idea and Mark had to realize, or be advised, and about 45 minutes later he sent a short email, but qualifying his words :

I didn’t mean to imply that we would buy them to prevent them from competing with us in any way .”

Despite this latest email, it appears that the monopolistic practices commission of inquiry has more than enough to investigate a little more about the episode and, in fact, that Mark nuanced his words to that point is further evidence for the committee that He really knew perfectly well that he was doing something illegal.

“It will be time before Facebook can buy Google”

Leaked Facebook emails are a real gem , but there’s a bombshell we weren’t expecting. And, in addition to these emails, an internal Facebook thread has been leaked in which they talk about Google .

Before buying Instagram, a Facebook engineer wrote in the chat:

Google+ is a false track. We are distracted by a crappy clone while others like Instagram and Pinterest rise up and create new markets that we didn’t see coming .”

To this, Zuckerberg replied after purchasing Instagram with a:

I remember your post about how Google+ was not a threat and Instagram was. You were right and one of the things about startups is that you can often buy them. One reason why people underestimate the importance of Google ” -we are in Remember, “2012 is because we can probably always buy any other competitive new company, but it will be a while before we can buy Google .”

Now, I think Facebook has gotten a little complicated buying a Google that is one of the most powerful companies , for all its services, on the planet. We will see what happens with Facebook and with a sanction that may be close, but the truth is that the leakage of these emails will not help Zuckerberg be acquitted.

Nirbhaya has been interested in doing something on his own from the days when he was in college. But, things didn’t favour him in the beginning, and he had to work for others. Later, he finally started as a news portal, and then never looked back. The website is gaining popularity every day. He puts all of his skills into his work and making his dream come true. He covers Tech and General news on this website.


“I think for both solid political, practical reasons and moral reasons, those two things should go together.”



Top House Democrats have promised to put key immigration bills on the floor this month — but President Joe Biden’s sweeping overhaul won’t be one of them.

The issue of what to do with Biden’s comprehensive immigration plan has bedeviled Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team, particularly after a disappointing whip count came back this week showing they don’t yet have the votes to pass the bill on the floor, according to people familiar with the talks.
With the Republican Party broadly embracing election disinformation, voter suppression and minority rule, it falls to Democrats to bear the standard of democracy. Doing so will require them to finish off an anti-democratic tradition of a quasi-democratic body, the Senate filibuster.

The House on Wednesday considered Democrats’ signature response to the party opposite’s authoritarian drift in the form of HR1, an omnibus of election, redistricting and campaign finance reforms. Its fate and perhaps that of American democracy depend on the Democrats’ willingness to use the majority they narrowly won in the Senate, where their 50 seats represent 41.5 million more Americans than the equivalent Republican caucus.

Democratic San Jose Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House caucus with jurisdiction over the bill, noted the thwarted popular will for addressing climate change and raising the minimum wage in a news conference before the House vote. “Nothing else happens unless the people’s voices are heard,” she said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, clutching a miniature American flag on the steps of the Capitol, agreed. “This reminds me of what it must have felt like at Valley Forge,” the San Francisco Democrat said. “Everything is at stake.”

It’s not much of an exaggeration. Pelosi and her fellow representatives stood at the scene of the violent insurrection that delayed Congress’ certification of President Biden’s election just two months ago, while further security threats canceled a House session scheduled for Thursday. Though the mob that stormed the capital on Jan. 6 literally called for Mike Pence’s neck, the former vice president typified the party’s stance by embracing the false claims of election fraud that fueled the violence in an op-ed published Wednesday, joining former President Donald Trump in attacking HR1.

Republican-run state legislatures, meanwhile, already have begun moving bills to limit ballot access and suppress participation. The party can also be counted on to oust several members of the House’s slim Democratic majority in two years not by persuading voters but through nakedly partisan gerrymandering, which already gives Republicans an advantage over their vote share of as many as 22 seats, or twice the current Democratic advantage, according to an Associated Press analysis. A restoration of Republican control of Congress could in turn mean that the next attempt to overturn certification of a legitimate presidential election succeeds.

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HR1 would stem this anti-democratic movement by setting national standards for ballot access, easing voter registration nationwide, requiring early voting and prohibiting excessive barriers to voting by mail. It would also impose more transparency on large political donations and create a matching system for small donations to congressional campaigns. And it would mandate California-style independent redistricting commissions to prevent partisan gerrymandering.

While these measures would empower voters regardless of their politics, they are unlikely to draw much support from a party increasingly dedicated to voter suppression and amenable to overturning elections. That has turned attention to what remains of the filibuster, which effectively requires 60 votes to pass most legislation and would therefore doom HR1 in the Senate. Undoing that tradition would require the assent of the more conservative-leaning Democrats such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and California’s Dianne Feinstein, who have defended the filibuster. It’s time for these and other Democrats to live up to their label and defend democracy instead.

So now Democrats are moving ahead with an alternative plan: Move the Biden bill through committee while the full House votes on more targeted immigration legislation that already enjoys broad caucus support.

The chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), confirmed the path forward, calling the Biden proposal both “important and serious.”

“We need to engage in some consultation with key members and stakeholders, but I see no reason why we wouldn’t mark it up when we reconvene in April,” Nadler said in a statement to POLITICO.

Biden’s proposal is a top priority for progressives and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who say it’s critical to take action in the early months of his term. But Democratic leaders were never going to bring up a bill on the floor that would fail — putting them on a tightrope as they try to keep all factions of their diverse caucus on board for a realistic approach to one of Washington’s thorniest issues. Further complicating matters, the White House has taken more of a hands-off approach to the bill’s future in the House, several lawmakers and aides said.

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“We need to have a discussion. It was put together by a few people. I don’t know what the role of the administration has been,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), a border-state Democrat who belongs to the centrist Blue Dog Coalition. “But I have a sense that it’s just not quite ready yet.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, acknowledged that “it’s difficult because of the schedule,” but vowed that “at the same time, we’re pushing very hard” to lend momentum to Biden’s sweeping proposal.

“It’s like we have three pedals, and we’re pushing every one of them with just as much strength,” she said, referring to a pair of other, more targeted immigration bills that will hit the floor in two weeks.

Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) huddled on Tuesday evening to discuss the whip count and strategize on what to do next. That meeting was interrupted as the nominee to lead Biden’s budget office yanked her name from consideration, and multiple Democrats said Wednesday that immigration issues remained unresolved.

Proponents of the Biden bill, meanwhile, are still furiously working the phones to get their colleagues on board. That group, led by California Reps. Linda Sánchez, Judy Chu and Zoe Lofgren, has also lined up meetings with influential groups across the caucus, including the Blue Dogs on Tuesday and progressives on Thursday. Sánchez and Lofgren, along with other top Democrats, also spoke to the New Democrat Coalition late last month.

President Joe Biden signs an executive order in the State Dining Room of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris watches.

Biden promised a ‘fair and humane’ immigration overhaul. What he inherited is a mess.

One of the White House’s leading officials on immigration, Tyler Moran, will also hold a staff briefing on the bill on Friday.

It’s unclear if or when Biden’s bill will come to the floor after moving through the Judiciary Committee in April. But several Democrats have been privately pushing leadership to make a decision one way or the other, privately expressing frustration that top Democrats were still projecting the possibility of the massive bill coming to the floor in March.

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In recent days, Democratic leaders have publicly sounded a note of skepticism, while acknowledging the final push behind the scenes.

“If ready, we will also consider comprehensive immigration reform,” Hoyer told reporters this week as he ticked off the upcoming floor schedule. “But I stress, if ready. There’s a lot of discussion going on about that.”

Democrats were already planning to take up some of their most popular immigration proposals in the coming weeks — one to protect the undocumented population known as Dreamers and another to reform the system for farmworkers. Both have bipartisan support, including strong backing from the CHC and CPC, and could soon see floor votes in the Senate.

But some members of the CHC say those bills aren’t enough because they don’t go nearly as far as Biden’s plan.

“I want to make sure the broader bill gets as much support as possible, and that we send it over as quickly as possible, and that we get this done,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), who helped shape Biden’s proposal and has been actively lobbying her colleagues on the bill.

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“My fear, always, is that we will get morsels and, as a Congress, continue to kick the can down the road,” she said.

As Democrats move quickly toward a piecemeal immigration strategy, some corners of their caucus have begun to seek changes to the Biden plan. Some moderates, for instance, are pushing to include a provision requiring employers to confirm workers’ legal status — known as e-verify. Progressives, meanwhile, want some tweaks to ensure the bill doesn’t disqualify people from citizenship because of minor infractions on their criminal record.

It’s not clear yet which changes might be made to the bill. The Biden administration has repeatedly expressed a willingness to consider more tailored immigration measures that Democrats can get to the president’s desk. A White House official said the administration was in “regular touch” with lawmakers on immigration reform and would continue to hold briefings on Biden’s immigration priorities as Congress considers proposals.

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), a swing-district Democrat, has been making the case to Biden’s Hill team that an e-verify provision should be part of the bill, just as it was in the bipartisan immigration bill in 2013 that fell just short of passage.

“Yes, I support what’s in the bill. I think we would be in a stronger position to get it enacted if we eventually ended up where, I think, the middle ground is,” Malinowski said. “I think for both solid political, practical reasons and moral reasons, those two things should go together.”

The biggest fear for many progressives, however, is what could happen to the bill to win over the party’s centrists, either in the House or when the bill crosses over to the Senate.

“We don’t want this bill to be watered down before it gets to the floor, which is sometimes what happens with immigration bills,” Jayapal said.

Immigration advocates have argued that failing to act on the issue could come back to haunt them politically, leaving Democrats vulnerable among their base in 2022.

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During a session at the House Democratic Caucus’s virtual retreat on Wednesday, advocates shared new polling conducted for the immigrant rights groups and America’s Voice, which showed that 63 percent of voters would be “upset” if protections for undocumented immigrants didn’t pass. The online survey of 1,200 voters who participated in the 2020 election was conducted Feb. 20-26.

A clean Dream Act proposal received the highest support nationally with 72 percent of voters supporting it compared to 71 percent support for a bill providing citizenship to undocumented farmworkers and 66 percent support for citizenship for undocumented essential workers. The latter is a proposal that has been pushed by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) alongside Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).

“Voters will be upset over inaction, especially the voters Democrats need to show up in the midterm elections,” stated the polling memo shared with House Democrats and obtained by POLITICO. “Republicans will not receive all or even most of the blame should the efforts to pass citizenship bills fail.

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Renewable Energy Group, Inc. Investors: Company Investigated by the Portnoy Law Firm



LOS ANGELES, March 03, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Portnoy Law Firm advises Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (“Renewable Energy” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: REGI) investors that the firm has initiated an investigation into possible securities fraud, and may file a class action on behalf of investors.

Investors are encouraged to contact attorney Lesley F. Portnoy, by phone 310-692-8883 or email: [email protected], to discuss their legal rights, or click here to join the case via The Portnoy Law Firm can provide a complimentary case evaluation and discuss investors’ options for pursuing claims to recover their losses.

After the market closed on February 25, 2021, a press release was issued by Renewable Energy announcing the financial results of its fourth quarter and full year 2020. Renewable Energy revealed that it would restate “$38.2 million in cumulative revenue from January 2018 through September 30, 2020” because Renewable Energy was not the “proper claimant for certain BTC [biodiesel mixture excise tax credits] payments on biodiesel it sold between January 1, 2017 and September 30, 2020.” It was further stated by Renewable Energy that it had reached an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service “on a $40.5 million assessment, excluding interest” in order to correct these claims. On February 26, 2021, Renewable Energy’s stock price fell as much as 9% on this news during intraday trading.

Please visit our website to review more information and submit your transaction information.

The Portnoy Law Firm represents investors in pursuing claims arising from corporate wrongdoing. The Firm’s founding partner has recovered over $5.5 billion for aggrieved investors. Attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee similar outcomes.


ONEONTA, Ala., March 03, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Otelco Inc. (Nasdaq: OTEL), (“Otelco” or the “Company”) a wireline telecommunication services provider in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia, announced today that it will release its fourth quarter and 2020 financial and operational results after the close of trading on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. The Company will hold a conference call to discuss these results on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern Time). To listen to the call, participants should dial (856) 344-9206 approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the call. A telephonic replay will be available from 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on March 17, 2021, through March 26, 2021, by dialing (719) 457-0820 and entering Confirmation Code 2033224.

The live broadcast of Otelco’s quarterly conference call will be available online at on March 17, 2021, beginning at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern Time). The online replay will be available at approximately 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on March 17, 2021, and will continue to be available for 30 days.


On July 27, 2020, Otelco announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by affiliates formed by Oak Hill Capital, a private equity firm. On October 9, 2020, the Company held a virtual special meeting of its stockholders at which the Agreement and Plan of Merger was adopted. Otelco is awaiting regulatory approvals of the proposed merger from the FCC and the public utility commissions in certain states it serves. The transaction is now expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.


Otelco Inc. provides wireline telecommunications services in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia. The Company’s services include local and long distance telephone, digital high-speed data lines, transport services, network access, cable television and other related services. Otelco provides over 64,000 services to more than 32,000 customers, with approximately 27% of those customers capable of receiving gigabit internet speeds over its Lightwave product or DOCSIS 3.1 cable platform. Otelco operates eleven incumbent telephone companies serving rural markets, or rural local exchange carriers. It also provides competitive retail and wholesale communications services and technology consulting, managed services and private/hybrid cloud hosting services through several subsidiaries. For more information, visit the Company’s website at

Statements in this press release that are not statements of historical or current fact constitute forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other unknown factors that could cause the actual results of the Company to be materially different from the historical results or from any future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. In addition to statements which explicitly describe such risks and uncertainties, readers are urged to consider statements labeled with the terms “believes,” “belief,” “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “plans,” or similar terms to be uncertain and forward-looking. The forward-looking statements contained herein are also subject generally to other risks and uncertainties that are described from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.

Curtis Garner
Chief Financial Officer
Otelco Inc.
[email protected]




Important Deadline Reminder: Vita Law Offices P.C. Reminds Clover Health Investments, Corp. Investors of Important Deadline in Securities Fraud Class Action Lawsuit

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Similarly, Kavanaugh also suggested that voting laws that are “commonplace” in states that do not have a history of racist voting restrictions are likely permissible under the Voting Rights Act — reasoning that could save Arizona’s restrictions on out-of-precinct voting. According to Kavanaugh, similar restrictions exist in about two dozen states



Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden settled a last-minute debate over Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, choosing to keep federal unemployment benefit payments at $400 per week but phase out the measure’s $1,400 stimulus checks more quickly.

The breakthrough comes just a few hours before Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is hoping to kick off debate on the Covid aid bill. One Senate Democratic aide said the chamber is now waiting only on official scores from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to confirm its bill doesn’t run afoul of the rules of budget reconciliation, the process that allows passage of the package with a simple majority.

Biden signed off on moderate Democrats’ demand to phase out the checks more quickly, the aide said. The bill’s $1,400 payments will now phase out completely at $80,000 per year for individuals and $160,000 for joint filers; the phase-outs will start at $75,000 and $150,000 respectively. But the bill will retain $400 in extra weekly unemployment payments through August rather than cut them to $300, as suggested by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

That breakthrough has Democrats ready to press forward on Biden’s bill as soon as possible. Biden urged the party to “swallow” provisions they don’t like during a virtual lunch meeting on Tuesday, according to one Senate Democrat. Moderate senators could offer their $300 weekly proposal as an amendment later this week, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he plans to force a vote on a $15 hourly minimum wage.

Sen. Joe Manchin questions President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense.
Sen. Joe Manchin questions President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. | Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The disagreement over unemployment benefits was not a big enough problem to derail, or even delay, the party’s push for quick passage of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill.

Those Democrats said that they expected a relatively smooth process as they race to finish the bill ahead of the March 14 expiration of some boosted unemployment benefits. The Senate is hoping to send its version of the legislation back to the House well before that deadline in order to give states a head start on the logistics of extending those benefits.

Schumer took procedural steps to put the House-passed legislation on the floor, though the Senate will substitute in its own text before it finishes voting. Among the things the Senate will remove from the House bill: the $15 minimum wage increase, as well as several transportation projects, all of which were ruled out by the Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian.

U.S. Capitol Police officials said Wednesday they have “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4” — the date that far-right conspiracy theorists believe former President Donald Trump will return to power.

The intelligence is being taken “seriously,” the officials said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers, the statement said. “Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time.”

The statement issued Wednesday morning follows another Tuesday night in which officials said they had beefed up security.

MORE: ‘Many’ US Capitol Police officers want to retire or leave after Jan. 6 insurrection, union says
“The Department is aware of concerning information and intelligence pertaining March 4th and continues to work with all of our law enforcement partners,” the federal law enforcement agency said in that statement. “Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th. The Department has communicated our enhanced posture as well as the available intelligence for the entire workforce.”

PHOTO: The United States Capitol Police seal appears on the side of a bus parked near the federal law enforcement agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2021.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The United States Capitol Police seal appears on the side of a bus parked near the federal law enf…Read More
The threats appear to stem from QAnon, the umbrella term for a set of disproven and discredited internet conspiracy theories that allege the world is run by a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles. Followers of the fringe movement believe that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen from Trump, who has pushed baseless claims of voter fraud along with his allies. 

QAnon followers also believed that Trump would not actually leave office on Inauguration Day but rather would declare martial law, announce mass arrests of Democrats and stop Joe Biden from becoming president. When that didn’t happen, the date was moved from Jan. 20 to March 4, the original inauguration day for all U.S. presidents prior to 1933.

PHOTO: Members of the National Guard are seen on the east front of the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on March 2, 2021.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Members of the National Guard are seen on the east front of the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol…Read More
The Federal Bureau of Investigation first labeled QAnon and its fluid online community of supporters as a “dangerous extremist group” in August 2019. A number of individuals believed to be QAnon followers have been charged for their alleged involvement in the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

MORE: QAnon emerges as recurring theme of criminal cases tied to US Capitol siege
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued a confidential assessment to law enforcement agencies, which was obtained by ABC News, saying that the threat of domestic violent extremism in 2020 — largely driven by “violent anti-government or anti-authority narratives, periods of prolonged civil unrest and conspiracy theories” — is a trend that will likely continue in 2021 and “could escalate to include targeting of critical infrastructure.”

Two separate teams of Republican lawyers looked at Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a case the Supreme Court heard on Tuesday, and saw an opportunity to stick a knife in the Voting Rights Act — potentially eliminating any meaningful safeguards against racist voting laws in the process.

The case involves two Arizona laws that make it harder for some voters to cast a ballot. One law requires election officials to discard ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct. The second prohibits many forms of “ballot collection,” where a voter gives their absentee ballot to another person, who then delivers that ballot to the election office so it can be counted.

Michael Carvin, a lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party, argued in his brief that states have broad power to enact laws restricting the “time, place, or manner” where voters cast their ballots — though he rapidly backpedaled after Justice Elena Kagan suggested that this proposed rule would allow a state to require all voters to cast their ballots at, say, country clubs.

Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, meanwhile, suggested in his brief that states that wish to disenfranchise voters of color may take advantage of existing demographic disparities to target racial minorities, so long as the state does not create those disparities. As Brnovich argued, the restriction on out-of-precinct voting should be upheld because “the fact that a ballot cast by a voter outside of his or her assigned precinct is discarded does not cause minorities to vote out-of-precinct disproportionately.”

Taken to its logical extreme, this proposed rule could permit truly outlandish attempts to restrict voting. Suppose that Arizona had passed a law limiting the franchise to country music fans, on the theory that white voters are more likely to listen to country music than voters of color. Under Brnovich’s standard, that law might not violate the Voting Rights Act’s protections against race discrimination because the state did not cause non-white voters to prefer other genres of music.

Both Carvin and Brnovich’s briefs, in other words, proposed reading a key prong of the Voting Rights Act so narrowly that it would become virtually meaningless. States would gain a broad power to disenfranchise voters of color, so long as they were somewhat clever about how they did so.

By the end of Tuesday’s arguments in Brnovich, however, it appeared unlikely that these attempts to neutralize the Voting Rights Act will prevail. There may very well be five votes — or even more than five votes — to uphold the two Arizona laws at issue in Brnovich. But several key justices appeared reluctant to go as far as Carvin and Brnovich asked them to go.

Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — all conservatives — each expressed concerns that Carvin’s proposed test either wasn’t workable or contradicted the text of the Voting Rights Act. After Carvin conceded that a state could not require every ballot to be cast at a country club, Barrett warned him that his argument “has some contradictions in it.”

Brnovich ran into similar trouble when he stepped up to the podium. Roberts, for example, appeared unconvinced that a key prong of Brnovich’s argument could be squared with the text of the Voting Rights Act. Kavanaugh suggested that a state law might violate the Voting Rights Act if it imposes unnecessary burdens on racial minorities. Barrett suggested that Brnovich’s approach would make it too easy for a state to disenfranchise racial minorities, so long as it enacted a series of laws that each disenfranchised a relatively small group of voters.

None of this means that the Arizona laws are likely to be struck down — many of the conservative justices appeared to spend the latter half of the argument trying to devise a legal standard that would allow them to uphold the laws. But the mere fact that they felt it necessary to come up with a new legal standard is a somewhat optimistic sign for voting rights, as it suggests that the Court is not ready to strangle the Voting Rights Act in the way proposed by Carvin’s or Brnovich’s brief.

These Republican lawyers simply asked for too much.

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The Voting Rights Act, briefly explained
Enacted in 1965, the Voting Rights Act is one of the most important civil rights laws in American history. It dismantled, at least for a while, many of the tools that Jim Crow lawmakers used to disenfranchise Black voters, and began a half-century long experiment in pluralistic democracy.

On the day that the Voting Rights Act was signed, only about 5 percent of the Black people of voting age in Mississippi were registered to vote. Two years later, that number was 60 percent.

Broadly speaking, the Voting Rights Act provides three safeguards against racist state and local voting laws. Section 5 of the law required state and local governments with a history of enacting such laws to “preclear” any new election rules with officials in Washington, DC, before those rules could take effect. Section 2 of the law, meanwhile, provides two separate protections against discriminations — known as the “intent test” and the “results test.”

If a voting rights plaintiff can show that an election law was enacted for the purpose of making it harder for voters of a particular race to cast their ballot, then the law violates Section 2’s “intent test.”

Under a 1982 amendment to the Voting Rights Act, state and local governments also may not enact a law that “results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color” — and this “results test” applies even if the lawmakers who enacted an allegedly racist law did not do so with any racial animus.

Under Chief Justice Roberts’s leadership, however, the Supreme Court has largely dismantled the first two prongs of the Voting Rights Act.

In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Supreme Court effectively deactivated Section 5’s preclearance requirement by striking down the formula that the Act used to determine which jurisdictions are subject to preclearance. Then, in Abbott v. Perez (2018), the Court held that lawmakers enjoy such a strong presumption of racial innocence that voting rights plaintiffs will struggle to prove racist intent in all but the most egregious cases.

Brnovich primarily concerns whether the two challenged Arizona laws violate the Voting Rights Act’s results test, which prohibits at least some laws that have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities. Given the Court’s decisions in Shelby County and Perez, many Supreme Court observers (including myself) feared that the Court’s conservative majority would use Brnovich to gut the results test in much the same way that the Court previously hobbled preclearance and the intent test.

That may very well still happen, but the oral argument in Brnovich suggests that annihilation of the results test will probably have to wait until another case comes along. While many of the justices signaled that they are inclined to uphold Arizona’s laws, the justices seemed unwilling to go quite as far as lawyers like Carvin and Brnovich hoped.

So what happens now?
Carvin’s brief took the bold position that “race-neutral regulations of the where, when, and how of voting do not implicate § 2” — though the brief does suggest at some points that only “ordinary” restrictions on “the time, place, or manner of voting” are permissible. But several justices appeared to view this proposed test as unworkable.

Kagan, for example, spent her questioning time with Carvin peppering him with questions about hypothetical voting restrictions — such as whether a state could require everyone to vote at a country club with a history of racist policies, or whether a state could require everyone to vote between 10 am and 2 pm on a particular day. And Carvin quickly started backtracking from the position he took in his brief when confronted with Kagan’s hypotheticals.

Even Carvin appeared to realize that it would be untenable to require every voter to cast their ballot at a country club.

Kavanaugh, meanwhile, homed in on Carvin’s suggestion that only “ordinary” voting restrictions may be allowed — wondering how a judge is supposed to distinguish an “ordinary” restriction from an “extraordinary” one.

Brnovich received a somewhat less chilly reception from the justices than Carvin did, but he still faced a barrage of skeptical questions. A key prong of Brnovich’s argument, for example, is that a plaintiff can only prevail under the results test if they can show that a challenged law “causes a substantial disparity in minority voters’ opportunity to vote and to elect their preferred candidates.” But that argument prompted Roberts to wonder where Brnovich is able to find this “substantial disparity” requirement in the Voting Rights Act’s text.

By the time Jessica Ring Amunson and Bruce Spiva, two of the lawyers challenging Arizona’s election laws, began their arguments, the Court’s conservatives appeared more interested in coming up with a new framework that would allow them to uphold Arizona’s laws, then they were in applying the scorched-earth frameworks proposed by Carvin and Brnovich.

Several justices repeatedly brought up the 2005 Carter-Baker Commission Report, a report produced by a commission chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, which, as Roberts noted, suggested that states should have some safeguards against fraud in “ballot harvesting.” Ballot harvesting is a pejorative term for a practice in which absentee voters give their ballots to a third party, who delivers that ballot to a polling place.

According to Kavanaugh, it is “a matter of common sense” that a voting restriction supported by such a commission probably isn’t a racist attempt to restrict minority voting.

Similarly, Kavanaugh also suggested that voting laws that are “commonplace” in states that do not have a history of racist voting restrictions are likely permissible under the Voting Rights Act — reasoning that could save Arizona’s restrictions on out-of-precinct voting. According to Kavanaugh, similar restrictions exist in about two dozen states.

The bottom line is that there’s a good chance that Arizona’s restrictions on ballot collection and out-of-precinct voting will be upheld. And there’s even a good chance that the Court will take a significant bite out of the Voting Rights Act in Brnovich.

But going by today’s arguments, at least, the full-scale attack on the Act proposed by Carvin and Brnovich seems less likely. Such an attack may still come in a future case, but Carvin and Brnovich’s ham-handed lawyering left the justices little to work with if they hope to dismantle the results test right now.

Senate Democrats need all 50 of their members to kick off consideration of the bill, a vote expected on Wednesday afternoon. After that the chamber will plunge into a long debate and finish with a series of amendment votes that could run for hours on end, known as a “vote-a-rama.”

Senate Republicans are debating how painful to make things for Democrats, possibly by dragging out the marathon of unlimited amendments overnight. That would likely happen late on Thursday and run into early Friday morning.

“I’m hoping for infinity. There are people talking about trying to set up a schedule and having it go on and on,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Paul said some in his party want to push the debate well past Thursday and keep adding amendments into Friday, while he has suggested to Schumer to spread the pain over two days.

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