06/29/2013 09:48 pm ET Updated Aug 29, 2013

Washington Watch: Week 22 - "What a Week"

"What a Week" -- Major Supreme Court Rulings, Senate Passes Immigration Reform, Obama and Family in Africa.

Supreme Rulings

The Voting Rights Act (from 1965) was gutted and southern states quickly reacted to suppress the minority vote. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Prop 8 were struck down and gay marriages immediately resumed in California.

Nan Aron, President of The Alliance for Justice, got it exactly right with her HuffPo piece: "The Supreme Court Takes With One Hand, Gives With the Other."

Says Ms. Aron:

"It's been a bittersweet week in the Supreme Court. On the one hand, the Court's decisions on same-sex marriage left many of us profoundly hopeful, while its voting rights opinion was deeply disappointing. By simultaneously moving in opposite directions on fundamental principles of civil rights, this Court has torn a hole in our political fabric, and once again left the nation part equal and part unequal."

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Before the ink had settled on the Voting Rights ruling, Republicans in Texas got busy. From The CS Monitor:

"Shortly after the decision on Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that the state's new voter ID law would immediately take effect. He also said that the state's challenged redistricting maps "may" also take effect without prior approval from Washington."

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Supporters of voting rights, such as Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, are calling on Congress to restore provisions of the act. However, even Ms. Brazile realizes this will be difficult given the current climate in Washington. From her CNN op-ed: "Congress Give us new Voting Rights Act,"

"Don't expect the conservative-controlled House of Representatives to jump at the chance though. Just last year, during the 2012 election cycle, Republican elected officials in states across the country pushed deeply hostile voter ID laws that disproportionately limit minority voters. Sometimes, the Republicans were even explicit that the purpose of these laws was to put victories in the "R" column. And all that took place with a full and complete Voting Rights Act still on the books."

In brighter news... with the decisions on DOMA and Prop 8, weddings are free to resume in those states which allow gay marriage. As a matter of fact, two of the plaintiffs in the historic ruling--Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, from Berkeley, were the first to be married with California Attorney General Kamala Harris officiating.

Btw.......Did Chris Christie just lose 2016 with this stance on gay marriage?

"New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) blasted the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it "wrong." Read More"

Maybe this is his stance going into the GOP primaries (which depend on the right-wing vote) however, should he become the Presidential candidate I predict he will "see the light" on this issue.

Will the Immigration Bill be Stalled?
The Senate passed a bi-partisan immigration bill this week, now it goes to the House. President Obama has called on Congress to pass the bill before their August recess. (We talked about this likely STALL in our post from week 20.)

Student Loan Rates set to Double
Rates on new student loans will DOUBLE on Monday. Still, no action from Congress to prevent this.

The Obamas in Africa:

View the video for a behind the scenes with the President & The First Lady at Gorée Island -- including a visit to the Masion des Esclaves (House of Slaves) Museum. Watch as Barack Obama stands at the "door of no return" where countless Africans were forced to board ships to the Americas where they were enslaved.

Watch and Listen -- an eloquent narrative by the First Lady.

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