Is New York’s Voting Rights For Non-Citizens Legal?

This week, New York became the latest city to grant voting rights to non-residents – a move that could give voting rights to 800,000 non-citizens in city elections. There are roughly a dozen such cities granting voting rights across the country but there are major questions over the legality of this measure in New York.

The purpose of these laws is to enfranchise non-citizens who pay taxes and are part of these communities. The New York law only extends to permanent residents.  Critics argue that it is part of a trend toward erasing the distinctions between citizens and non-citizens.

The law, however, faces a credible challenge in the absence of action from the state legislature in Albany.

The first stumbling block is the state constitution itself. N.Y. Const. art. II, § 1 provides that “Every citizen shall be entitled to vote at every election for all officers elected by the people and upon all questions submitted to the vote of the people provided that such citizen is eighteen years of age or over and shall have been a resident of this state, and of the county, city, or village for thirty days next preceding an election.”

Proponents would have to establish that non-citizens can be treated as citizens “entitled to vote at every election.” It is possible that a court could interpret the language broadly in a non-exclusionary way.  Proponents note that noncitizens have previously voted in some New York city elections.

The second barrier is the New York state election law, which limits the franchise “in any election” to US citizens:

No person shall be qualified to register for and vote at any election unless he is a citizen of the United States and is or will be, on the day of such election, eighteen years of age or over, and a resident of this state and of the county, city or village for a minimum of thirty days next preceding such election.

However, there is a savings clause that says that if a conflict exists between state election law and “any other law,” the latter prevails absent a specific prohibition in the election law. The New York City law could be argued as such “other law” that prevails in a conflict.

Finally, there is Section 23(2)(e) of New York’s Municipal Home Rule Law, along with § 38 of New York City’s charter, which provides that a local law shall be subject to mandatory referendum if it “[a]bolishes an elective office, or changes the method of … electing … an elective officer, or changes the term of an elective office, or reduces the salary of an elective officer during his term of office.” This is a measure coming from the City Council itself, not a referendum.

It is clear that the law will be challenged and there are credible claims to be made in court. Even Mayor de Blasio has expressed doubts over the legality of the law. What is clear is that various Democratic cities are moving to adopt similar laws, though much will depend on their state constitutions and laws. In New York, the Constitution raised a challenging interpretive task as does the Home Rule law. In the end, this would seem a matter for the state legislature to resolve. The addition of 800,000 votes in New York City alone is a major shift in the voting population. The resulting policy changes impact that whole state and obviously citizens travel and change residences between these cities. It is a matter that should be addressed by the whole state on the whether voting should remain a right exclusive to citizens.

151 thoughts on “Is New York’s Voting Rights For Non-Citizens Legal?”

  1. “. . . give voting rights to 800,000 non-citizens in city elections.”

    Citizenship proves two things: Permanence and commitment. That, in turn, *earns* you the right to vote. (I know, earning something is not in the D’s playbook.) You don’t get to vote simply because you can fog a mirror.

    “Even Mayor de Blasio has expressed doubts over the legality of the law.”

    Not a problem. For the D’s, there’s always a “workaround.”

  2. DEAR WHITE CONSERVATIVES:

    This report on the history of the Ku Klux Klan, America’s first terrorist organization, was prepared by the Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Klanwatch was formed in 1981 to help curb Klan and racist violence through litigation, education and monitoring.

    This report on the history of the Ku Klux Klan, America’s first terrorist organization, was prepared by the Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Klanwatch was formed in 1981 to help curb Klan and racist violence through litigation, education and monitoring.

    This is a history of hate in America — not the natural discord that characterizes a democracy, but the wild, irrational, killing hate that has led men and women throughout our history to extremes of violence against others simply because of their race, nationality, religion or lifestyle.

    Since 1865, the Ku Klux Klan has provided a vehicle for this kind of hatred in America, and its members have been responsible for atrocities that are difficult for most people to even imagine. Today, while the traditional Klan has declined, there are many other groups which go by a variety of names and symbols and are at least as dangerous as the KKK.

    Some of them are teenagers who shave their heads and wear swastika tattoos and call themselves Skinheads; some of them are young men who wear camouflage fatigues and practice guerrilla warfare tactics; some of them are conservatively dressed professionals who publish journals filled with their bizarre beliefs — ideas which range from denying that the Nazi Holocaust ever happened to the contention that the U.S. federal government is an illegal body and that all governing power should rest with county sheriffs.

    Despite their peculiarities, they all share the deep-seated hatred and resentment that has given life to the Klan and terrorized minorities and Jews in this country for more than a century.

    The Klan itself has had three periods of significant strength in American history — in the late 19th century, in the 1920s, and during the 1950s and early 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its height. The Klan had resurgence again in the 1970s, but did not reach its past level of influence. Since then, the Klan has become just one element in a much broader spectrum of white supremacist activity.

    It’s important to understand, however, that violent prejudice is not limited to the Ku Klux Klan or any other white supremacist organization. Every year, murders, arsons, bombings and assaults are committed by people who have no ties to an organized group, but who share their extreme hatred. I learned the importance of history at an early age — my father, the late Horace Mann Bond, taught at several black colleges and universities. He showed me that knowing the past is critical to making sense of the present. The historical essays in this magazine explain the roots of racism and prejudice which sustain the Ku Klux Klan.

    As a young civil rights activist working alongside John Lewis, Andrew Young, the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others, I saw the Ku Klux Klan as an all-too visible power in many of the places we went to organize voter registration and protest segregation.

    We knew what the Klan was, and often we had a pretty good idea of who its members were. We also knew what Klansmen would do to us if they could get away with it.

    For many years the KKK quite literally could get away with murder. The Ku Klux Klan was an instrument of fear, and black people, Jews and even white civil rights workers knew that the fear was intended to control us, to keep things as they had been in the South through slavery, and after that ended, through Jim Crow. This fear of the Klan was very real because, for a long time, the Klan had the power of Southern society on its side.

    But in time that changed. It is a tribute to our laws that the Klan gradually was unmasked.

    https://www.splcenter.org/20110228/ku-klux-klan-history-racism

  3. If the majority of non-citizens vowed to vote Republican all the way, I am sure that Nancy Pelosi would be standing in her own tank, binocular strapped around her neck, dressed as a tank commander leading the way to the border with a full tank battalion to drive out illegal immigrants.

  4. Work Permits Required

    I’m not sure if Professor Turley mentioned it, but according to The New York Times, these non-citizens must hold work permits to vote. That, right there, is a big qualifier. Work permits are not that simple to obtain.

    But one thing we can count on: ‘Rightwing media won’t be mentioning the work permit requirement when they endlessly flog this story’.

    1. Absolutely correct. The right will not be mentioning it because it has no relevance. The left wants to rail against foreign influence and drag the country through investigating a false allegation that it resulted in Trump being put into office, then for their next move import massive numbers of foreign voters. If there is a single thing consistent about the left’s ideology it is that there IS NO CONSISTENCY.

    2. You are obliviously on easily how employment authorization documents (EAD) are obtained. There is a laundry list of illegal and out of status aliens that obtain these work permits. EADs are interim documents in many cases and confer no status for the alien.

    3. You’re leaving information out yourself.

      “Under the bill, people who have lived in the city for at least 30 days and are legal permanent residents in the United States would be allowed to vote.

      That includes DACA recipients, green card holders and people with workers permits.”

      So basically any illegal. Also even if a work permit wasn’t simple to obtain, you are not a citizen of the United States and that right there disqualifies your vote. Good luck having anything close to an honest election in NYC ever again. This is decision is a slippy slope for the rest of the nation.

      1. Anonymous, bottom line, do you think illegals should be allowed to vote? DO you think CITIZENS should be allowed to vote on the issue instead of a CITY COUNCIL decreeing it the way a SCHOOL BOARD decrees or the way the radical DAs decree? Please reply.

    4. One thing we can count on is that the Democrats will declare the work permit requirement to be discriminatory and won’t enforce it or even check.

    5. “Work permits are not that simple to obtain.”

      “The application process for obtaining a U.S. work permit (also called an employment authorization document or EAD) is fairly straightforward. You need to fill out a one-page form, attach the fee, photos, and documents proving you’re eligible, and submit it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).”

      https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/us-immigration/how-apply-for-work-permit-ead.html

      If that’s *not* “simple,” then what is: Blink twice if you want a work permit?

  5. I’m open to correction if I am wrong, because I do not have the time to research this, but I was thinking that the original idea behind a “right to vote” was premised upon having a VESTED INTEREST in the outcome, i.e.,/ e.g., agrarian and mercantile interests.?

  6. Can Conservatives and Republicans vote in Russia for/against Vladimir Putin and in China for/against Xi Jinping?

    Wait, those are restricted-vote republics?

    Can Conservatives and Republicans vote the democrat ballot?

    Can men vote in the elections of the National Organization for Women.

    Exactly how much bull—- from dependent parasites, both foreign and domestic, will actual Americans take?

    At some point, even idiots recognize the mortal enemies attacking them – how ’bout that Trojan Horse?

    In 1788, citizens were required to be “…free white person(s)…,” a de facto restriction on the vote, and the Founders in several States generally required voters to be male, European, 21 and worth 50 lbs. Sterling/50 acres.

    Never were the dependent “poor” and various and sundry parasites of every variety, both foreign and domestic, intended to vote in America.

    “If it were probable that every man would give his vote freely, and without influence of any kind, then,…every member…should have a vote…that can hardly be expected, in persons of indigent fortunes, or such as are under the immediate dominion of others,” Hamilton.*

    Clearly, the Founders intended that “members” * only could vote in America, comprehensively.

    Clearly elections are for members.
    ___________________________

    “the people are nothing but a great beast…

    I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value.”

    – Alexander Hamilton
    ________________

    *

    “The true reason (says Blackstone) of requiring any qualification, with regard to property in voters, is to exclude such persons, as are in so mean a situation, that they are esteemed to have no will of their own.”

    “If it were probable that every man would give his vote freely, and without influence of any kind, then, upon the true theory and genuine principles of liberty, every member of the community, however poor, should have a vote… But since that can hardly be expected, in persons of indigent fortunes, or such as are under the immediate dominion of others, all popular states have been obliged to establish certain qualifications, whereby, some who are suspected to have no will of their own, are excluded from voting; in order to set other individuals, whose wills may be supposed independent, more thoroughly upon a level with each other.”

    – Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775
    ______________________________________

    “[We gave you] a [restricted-vote] republic, if you can keep it.”

    – Ben Franklin
    ____________

    You couldn’t!

  7. Jonathan: Democrats want to expand voting rights. Now the City of New York wants the franchise to include non-citizen permanent residents “who pay taxes and are part of these communities”, to use your words. While this is going on the GOP is trying to do the opposite–trying to restrict the vote in states they control. Trying to make it harder for Democrats, especially Black voters, to exercise the right to vote. As a result of Georgia’s new voting law early voting is restricted. It is against the law to offer water to an elderly Black voter waiting in line in the hot Georgia sun! The Spalding County Board of Elections in Georgia has just purged the majority of Black women on the Board . They have been replaced with white Republicans. The Chairman of the Board has endorsed Trump’s false stolen-election claims. This is going on all over Georgia. In Wisconsin the GOP wants to eliminate the state’s bipartisan election commission and is threatening members with prosecution. It wants a GOP controlled commission to make it easier to eliminate votes it doesn’t like. Other GOP controlled states are doing the same thing. It is clear the GOP does not want a repeat of 2020.This is voter suppression on steroids!

    But you are all in a twit because Democrats want to expand voting while saying nothing about the systematic campaign by the GOP to keep Democrats, and especially Black voters, from exercising their voting rights–the ultimate form of “free speech”–a subject dear to your heart. For you apparently what the GOP is doing is OK but what NY City wants to do is beyond the pale! At least we now know where you stand on the franchise.

    1. Dennis, Georgia’s voting law is actually less restrictive than the voting laws of some blue states that are criticizing Georgia.

      Your real purpose in undermining Georgia’s voting law is to get a fat, snarling Angus in the governor’s mansion.

    2. While this is going on the GOP is trying to do the opposite–trying to restrict the vote in states they control.

      Name one restriction.

    3. Could it be that both the Dems and GOP are doing wrong things here? Yes, it could be, and no, one does not excuse the other. I’m pretty sure the GOP is hell-bent to close every legal and illegal loophole in Georgia after the last election there. I don’t blame them. Because they are doing that, are you saying you support NY’s proposal to let non-citizens vote? What is the benefit of being a citizen? What is the benefit of having a secure border? These are constitutional issues, perhaps above your understanding. I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.

  8. “Even Mayor de Blasio has expressed doubts over the legality of the law. What is clear is that various Democratic cities are moving to adopt similar laws, though much will depend on their state constitutions and laws. In New York, the Constitution raised a challenging interpretive task as does the Home Rule law. In the end, this would seem a matter for the state legislature to resolve. ”
    *********************************
    Further proof, as if any was needed, that the Dims despise this country and its citizens and seek to replace them with those more to their liking. Any difference you can see between this political party and an enemy? Maybe the marginal Dim voters will figure it out now that their voting power is being systematically diluted. Or not.

    1. Democratic gerrymandering. People of Brown, Yellow, Orange, etc. are waking from their woke and drowsy state.

  9. Paying taxes does not constitute citizenship. If it did, then everyone who visits other cities and pays the city’s sales taxes would
    be a citizen of that city.

    1. So, taxation without representation is ok?

      It’s pretty obvious they are talking about long term legal residents. Not just any non-citizen.

      1. REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION

        45% of “citizens” and hyphenates in America DO NOT PAY TAXES.

        Under communism, nothing needs to make sense and no one needs to understand.
        __________________________________________________________________

        “Theirs not to reason why,

        Theirs but to do and die.”

        – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

        1. WASHINGTON D.C. – PERFECT EXAMPLE OF TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION – so you do support making Washington D.C. a state….cool.

  10. OT: Facebook Court Filing Admits ‘Fact Checks’ Are Just A Matter Of ‘Protected’ Opinion — Thomas Lifson

    Surprisingly little attention is being paid to a bombshell admission made by the attorneys representing the corporation formerly known as Facebook, Inc., which has now transitioned into Meta Platforms, Inc.

    In a court filing responding to a lawsuit filed by John Stossel claiming that he was defamed by a “fact check” Facebook used to label a video by him as “misleading,” Meta’s attorneys assert that the “fact check” was an “opinion,” not an actual check of facts and declaration of facts. Under libel law, opinions are protected from liability for libel.

    continued at…

    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/stunning-facebook-court-filing-admits-fact-checks-are-just-matter-opinion

    1. now THAT is an astute observation Spanky. Kudos to you for pointing it out. One can only hope that having made this claim, it is not referenced to repeal the protections from civil suits that social media outlets now enjoy. After-all, communications utilities do not have “opinions”.

  11. JT: “The purpose of these laws is to enfranchise non-citizens who pay taxes and are part of these communities.”

    Actually, as many commentors have already noted, the real purpose is to cancel out the votes of anybody who disagrees with globalist-leftists.

    This proves why we need the Electoral College more than ever. States that cheat in their popular votes by gaming immigration and election laws will dominate presidential outcomes unless all states cheat. If all states start cheating, the next logical step is CIVIL WAR.

    The Electoral College greatly limits the effect of any state’s cheating, thus making it possible for the rest of us to still leave in peace with NYC, Chicago, and LA. However, if the Census counts non-citizens for purposes of determining electors, then cheating can still become a major problem. Trump tried to stop this fudging of the census, but in a 5-4 decision, John Roberts betrayed American stability and sided against Trump. Roberts would easily lose that vote today, but the question is moot until 2030.

    I personally despise Roberts and his Skull-and-Bones gang of globalists. We’ll see how much damage he has done by 2030 for sure.

  12. Here are a few scenarios to consider. An executive from India works in the United States and he pays taxes on his earnings to the IRS. He is a citizen of India. Because he pays taxes in the U.S. should he be allowed to vote in our elections. Should a Chinese citizen who is working in the U.S. and paying taxes be allowed to vote. Should a citizen of Mexico who is in the U.S. illegally and taxes are taken from his wages be allowed to vote. The paying of taxes in this country by citizens of other nations is not a qualifier for voting in the U.S. Those who present the paying of taxes as a qualifier go to great lengths in their argument to somehow justify the voting of non citizens. It is a wonderment indeed to see how they makes such a strenuous stretch to fortify their weakly thought out arguments.

  13. Some people mistakenly believe that “illegal aliens” enjoy no U.S. Constitutional rights. This belief, although popular, is a wrong assumption.

    “Illegal aliens” (undocumented immigrants) are not just entitled to basic fundamental human rights, but are also covered by the Constitution of the United States.

    Yes, without question, the Constitution applies to “illegal aliens” (undocumented immigrants) on the basis of personhood and jurisdiction in the United States.

    Many parts of the Constitution use the term “people” or “person” rather than “citizen.”

    U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a number of cases that “illegal aliens” (undocumented immigrants) enjoy U.S. Constitional rights; such as the right to own property, the right to engage in lawful employment.

    For example, in Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) the Supreme Court of the United States struck down both a state statute denying funding for education to undocumented immigrant children in the United States and a municipal school district’s attempt to charge an annual $1,000 tuition fee for each student to compensate for lost state funding. The Court found that any state restriction imposed on the rights afforded to children based on their immigration status must be examined under a rational basis standard to determine whether it furthers a substantial government interest.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause applies to citizens and noncitizens equally.

    This is not intended to say that “illegal aliens” (undocumented immigrants) enjoy the same exact, set of rights and privileges as citizens or legal residents of the United States.

    That would be false because the enjoyment of certain rights, such as the right to vote in federal elections, the right to run for federal office, and the right to hold certain federal jobs are reserved exclusively for United States citizens. These also happen to be the only federal rights exclusively enjoyed by U.S. citizens.

    However, the rights of “illegal aliens” (undocumented immigrants) are not restricted to “basic human rights,” but also extend to rights protected by the U.S. Constitution by virtue of being physically present in the country.

    For instance, here is a non-exhaustive list of some rights “illegal aliens” (undocumented immigrants) may enjoy stemming from the United States Constitution:

    Right to jury trial;
    Right to Miranda warning;
    Right to defend against charges and deportation;
    Right to counsel in criminal proceedings;
    Right to protection from unlawful search and seizure;
    Right to protection against self-incrimination;
    Right to file civil lawsuits;
    Right to payment for work performed;
    Right to a healthy and safe work environment; and
    Right to K-12 education.

    Have a nice day!

      1. get some clothes on boy and get back in the trailer now……uncle’s not finished with you, boy.

        1. Good reply. Just poke fun at poor white people as you would never pick on poor black people which makes you a racist. An ugly, nasty racist at that. Not some hidden, ambiguous, sly racist, nope, just a Bull Connor, Al Sharpton kind of racist.

          Please go to a more apt site to spew your ugly racist rants. You don’t belong here, which is probably something you have heard your entire life…like standing outside your prom trying to sneak a peek in to see what is going on inside.

  14. New York City will ban Volkswagen Beetles someday because they were invented by Hitler. Mark my words. That’s how insane these people are.

  15. Each year we allow socialist, communist, democrats and leftist to nibble away at the things which made the United States of America a place that the world wants to come to. When the world is in trouble they always expect us to bail them out. Those who wish to change the United States of America are usually those who have never really embraced her or who have sacrificed for her, only taken from her. We hear excuses “well they pay taxes” or the “price of lettuce will be to high”. Let them leave if they don’t like paying our taxes and we’ll buy something other then lettuce. Anyone can become a citizen in the United States of America just follow the law and apply. When you’ve met the rules and regulations of the United States of America you’ll be invited to participate in the privilege of casting a vote for a citizen of the United States of America. What will the Democrats ask for next, that non American citizen be allowed to run for any office after all they can vote? If this destruction of the United States of America doesn’t stop it will be nothing more than one of the countries the illegals are coming from on a large scale.

  16. “The problem” is not non-citizens voting in non-federal elections. “The problem” is conservatism.

    Conservatism is a form of mental illness thinly disguised as a legitimate political ideology.

    American history proves that “conservatism” is a Caucasian sociopathy born of racism, fear, violence and discrimination.

    Traditional “Conservatism” is a euphemism for “Confederate White Power.”

    A sane, rational individual harbors no ill-will towards other persons standing and living on U.S. soil.

    Those of you who calls yourself a Christian and who claims to folllow Jesus’ teachings, should have enough common sense to know if Jesus was a U.S. citizen born and raised in America, Jesus would NOT be discriminating against persons on U.S. soil based upon color, race, creed, sexual orientation or national origin.

    Can you honestly imagine Jesus writing state laws discriminating against persons based upon color, race, creed, sexual orientation or national origin?

    Obviously not.

    Amen.

    1. I call applesauce. My advice is to remember this adage, especially the latter: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

    2. ronold – Yea, I don’t know Jesus personally but I bet Jesus would have a lot to say about sexual orientation and breaking the law. As I recall Jesus was a pretty conservative guy.

      1. Jesus was not anti-gay and was not a conservative. Jesus had it tough growing up the only white kid in a brown neighborhood.

        1. ronold says : “Jesus was not anti-gay and was not a conservative. Jesus had it tough growing up the only white kid in a brown neighborhood.”

          So according to you he thought Greasing Weezer was OK? I seem to remember he hung a job on a couple towns called Sodom & Gomorrah. As far as the “only white kid in a brown neighborhood” I guess you mean there were a lot of chariot drive by arrow killings?

      2. yes I remember when you told Black Jesus, “Hey, I thought you were a white Republican conservative” and Black Jesus gave you food and water because you were hungry.

    3. This is almost too dumb to deserve response. First of all, stop citing someone you don’t believe in. Secondly, standing on US soil? What you are suggesting doesn’t exist. Its everyone’s soil according to your interpretation. Irony is so lost on lefties.

      1. Exactly Thomas. How the hell did sexual orientation, something most of the country could not care less about, bet inserted into this thread?

    4. “The problem” is conservatism.

      Conservatism is a form of mental illness thinly disguised as a legitimate political ideology.

      American history proves that “conservatism” is a Caucasian sociopathy born of racism, fear, violence and discrimination.

      Traditional “Conservatism” is a euphemism for “Confederate White Power.” — ronharold2021

      These are political statements intended to defame — harm — American citizens based on race and political philosophy.

      A sane, rational individual harbors no ill-will towards other persons standing and living on U.S. soil. — ronharold2021

      What conclusion should we draw? You’re certainly a hypocrite. Are you also insane?

      In many ways, you’re already in the authoritarian state. You just don’t know it. — Ai Weiwei, former Chinese political prisoner

      Perhaps you might find this interview with Ai Weiwei interesting. He’s already been where you wish to go, politically speaking. It’s worth mentioning that his father was denounced as a rightist — something you practice here with great enthusiasm.

    5. Hey Ron, do any other races have pathologies that you don’t like or is it only CAUCASIONS that exhibit such awful traits? I thought we were all the same? I thought it was racist to ascribe certain activities to certain races?

      1. This report on the history of the Ku Klux Klan, America’s first terrorist organization, was prepared by the Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Klanwatch was formed in 1981 to help curb Klan and racist violence through litigation, education and monitoring.

        This report on the history of the Ku Klux Klan, America’s first terrorist organization, was prepared by the Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Klanwatch was formed in 1981 to help curb Klan and racist violence through litigation, education and monitoring.

        This is a history of hate in America — not the natural discord that characterizes a democracy, but the wild, irrational, killing hate that has led men and women throughout our history to extremes of violence against others simply because of their race, nationality, religion or lifestyle.

        Since 1865, the Ku Klux Klan has provided a vehicle for this kind of hatred in America, and its members have been responsible for atrocities that are difficult for most people to even imagine. Today, while the traditional Klan has declined, there are many other groups which go by a variety of names and symbols and are at least as dangerous as the KKK.

        Some of them are teenagers who shave their heads and wear swastika tattoos and call themselves Skinheads; some of them are young men who wear camouflage fatigues and practice guerrilla warfare tactics; some of them are conservatively dressed professionals who publish journals filled with their bizarre beliefs — ideas which range from denying that the Nazi Holocaust ever happened to the contention that the U.S. federal government is an illegal body and that all governing power should rest with county sheriffs.

        Despite their peculiarities, they all share the deep-seated hatred and resentment that has given life to the Klan and terrorized minorities and Jews in this country for more than a century.

        The Klan itself has had three periods of significant strength in American history — in the late 19th century, in the 1920s, and during the 1950s and early 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its height. The Klan had resurgence again in the 1970s, but did not reach its past level of influence. Since then, the Klan has become just one element in a much broader spectrum of white supremacist activity.

        It’s important to understand, however, that violent prejudice is not limited to the Ku Klux Klan or any other white supremacist organization. Every year, murders, arsons, bombings and assaults are committed by people who have no ties to an organized group, but who share their extreme hatred. I learned the importance of history at an early age — my father, the late Horace Mann Bond, taught at several black colleges and universities. He showed me that knowing the past is critical to making sense of the present. The historical essays in this magazine explain the roots of racism and prejudice which sustain the Ku Klux Klan.

        As a young civil rights activist working alongside John Lewis, Andrew Young, the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others, I saw the Ku Klux Klan as an all-too visible power in many of the places we went to organize voter registration and protest segregation.

        We knew what the Klan was, and often we had a pretty good idea of who its members were. We also knew what Klansmen would do to us if they could get away with it.

        For many years the KKK quite literally could get away with murder. The Ku Klux Klan was an instrument of fear, and black people, Jews and even white civil rights workers knew that the fear was intended to control us, to keep things as they had been in the South through slavery, and after that ended, through Jim Crow. This fear of the Klan was very real because, for a long time, the Klan had the power of Southern society on its side.

        But in time that changed. It is a tribute to our laws that the Klan gradually was unmasked and its illegal activities checked.

        1. Oohhh, the KKK, as topical as hating your German neighbor because of the Nazis. Or Chinese folks hating the Japanese for rapes. Or a Jewish person hating the Egyptians because of slavery. Or Carthaginians hating Romans for killing them and enslaving them. But you do the white hating thing, it suits you to a T.

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