Supreme Court strikes down North Carolina GOP’s legislative gerrymanders


North Carolina: In a major victory for voting rights on Monday, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling issued last year that had struck down 28 of North Carolina’s 170 state legislative districts on the grounds that Republicans had unconstitutionally relied too heavily on race when drawing them in 2011. These lines will now have to be redrawn, and new elections will be held using these new maps, but it’s a big open question when those elections will occur. When they do, Democrats could finally break the GOP’s years-long veto-proof supermajorities in the legislature, which Republicans have used to run roughshod over democratic norms and impose a radical conservative agenda on an evenly divided swing state.

So why did the courts determine these lines were invalid? Republicans had taken seats like the 21st State Senate District in Fayetteville—the tentacular monstrosity shown in the map at the top of this post—that had pluralities of African-American voters and made them majority-black by slicing and dicing cities and even precincts themselves to scoop out black voters. Republicans claimed that they were required to do so under the Voting Rights Act so that black voters could elect their candidates of choice, but that argument was entirely pretextual.

That’s because black voters, even in plurality-black districts, were already able to elect their preferred candidates—typically, black Democrats. Republicans merely sought to pack as many black voters into as few seats as possible in order to make surrounding seats whiter. In the South in particular, black voters tend to overwhelmingly back Democrats while whites vote heavily for Republicans, so reducing the black population in these neighboring seats quite simply made it easier for the GOP to win them.

So while the invalidation of these GOP-drawn districts is good news for Democrats, there’s still one big hitch: The very same Republicans who benefited from the gerrymanders that were just struck down will get to draw up new lines to replace the old ones. And whatever new districts they produce, Republicans will now likely claim that they’re only taking partisanship (and not race) into account. We know this because the exact same thing happened with the state’s congressional map, which was also struck down as an illegal racial gerrymander but reconstituted (so Republicans said) as a purely partisan construct—something the Supreme Court still tolerates.

But the GOP will still face new constraints on how it can use race when it goes back to the literal drawing board, and that could make all the difference.

The now-invalidated maps were so brutally effective that Republicans managed to win veto-proof supermajorities every election since the lines were first put in place following the 2010 census. To illustrate just how durable these gerrymanders have been, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump all also won a supermajority of seats despite running very close races statewide. (McCain even lost!) And last year, North Carolina even elected Roy Cooper—a Democrat—as governor, yet the GOP’s supermajority persisted.

But while they’ll try their damnedest to cling to power, it’ll nevertheless be harder for Republicans to retain that hammerlock going forward. Democrats only need to gain four seats in the 120-member state House to break the Republicans’ 74-46 supermajority (one nominally Democratic member in a heavily Trump district frequently sides with Republicans).

Exactly when the GOP will face its moment of truth remains to be seen, though. The lower court had originally called for special elections to take place this year, but the Supreme Court vacated that part of the ruling and told the district court to issue new findings in regard to timing. That means we could still see 2017 special elections under new maps, though given how far we are into the year, 2018 (when the legislature would normally be up) seems more likely.

Cooper quickly called a special legislative session to begin on Thursday for the legislature to draw new maps. However, shortly before the session was scheduled to start, Republican legislators, on a party-line vote, moved to overrule the governor and cancel the session. They’re arguing that Cooper doesn’t have the authority to call such a session over redistricting, particularly while the legislature’s regular session remains ongoing. Both parties will likely take this fight to court, potentially raising the odds that the court will wind up drawing the lines.

Meanwhile, North Carolina state law gives the legislature roughly two weeks to come up with new maps before judges are allowed to step in and take over the process, which would of course be the ideal outcome for Democrats and gerrymandering opponents. By calling a special session, Cooper is likely trying to jump-start the clock ahead of the filing period for this fall’s regularly scheduled municipal races (which runs from July 7 to 21) to increase the chances of holding special elections this November. Republicans, by contrast, are attempting to delay until the regularly scheduled November 2018 elections.

It’s unclear just what the chances are of special elections this fall as opposed to next year, though. But whatever schedule we wind up with, Democrats have a major opportunity to set North Carolina in a new direction. Republicans have turned the Tar Heel State into an experiment in hardline conservative governance and made it ground zero in the battle over voting rights. With redrawn districts, Democrats could finally provide a firm check against Republican legislative abuses by sustaining Cooper’s vetoes and restoring some sanity to North Carolina’s government.

Ballot Measures

Puerto Rico: On June 11, residents of Puerto Rico will vote on the future political status of their island commonwealth, which is currently an unincorporated territory—meaning the Constitution does not fully apply there—whose residents have been U.S. citizens for the last 100 years. Voters will face three choices: the status quo, statehood, or independence in free association with the U.S.

This referendum marks the fifth time that Puerto Rico citizens have had the option to vote for statehood. The most recent opportunity came in 2012, when two questions were on the ballot: The first asked whether voters wanted to change the island’s status, and the second asked what that status should look like if it changed. Most voted in favor of some form of change on the first question, and a larger majority supported statehood on the second question, but statehood failed to attain a majority among all ballots cast thanks to abstentions. Some statehood opponents have called for a boycott in 2017 to once again prevent the option from obtaining a majority of registered voters.

Given Puerto Rico’s long-running deep financial crisis and economic struggles, statehood could be a more appealing option this time than in previous votes. If the territory votes to become a state, Congress would then have the power to admit it to the union with just a simple majority vote. Surprisingly, the national Republican Party platform has long favored honoring the wishes of Puerto Rico voters on this issue, and the territorial GOP strongly supports statehood. However, since Puerto Ricans living on the mainland have long voted overwhelmingly Democratic, it is unlikely that congressional Republicans would admit a new state that could very well elect two new Democratic senators and five Democratic representatives at the federal level.

But even if the GOP remains obstinate following a pro-statehood vote, congressional Democrats could admit Puerto Rico as the 51st state if they regain control of both chambers of Congress in 2018 or 2020. And as a matter of principle, Democrats should embrace statehood if Puerto Ricans themselves do. The island’s 3.4 million people are American citizens who are currently deprived of full voting rights and representation, and its admission as a state would mark a small step toward correcting Congress’ steep structural bias that over-represents white voters and under-represents Latinos compared to their proportions of the national electorate. The same goes for admitting Washington, D.C., as a state, which voted for statehood in a landslide last year, but whose heavily black electorate also lacks proper representation on Capitol Hill.

Voter Registration

Oregon: Oregon became the first state to pass automatic voter registration in 2015, and the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, has issued an extensive new report on its impact on last year’s elections. The report finds that the new law boosted registration substantially among demographics that are typically less likely to participate: the young, nonwhites, low-income citizens, and rural residents. Indeed, roughly 40 percent of automatic registrants were age 30 or younger, or about twice the proportion of eligible citizens of that age.

CAP estimates that approximately 116,000 of the 273,000 automatic registrants otherwise would not have registered at all. And although just 44 percent of automatic registrants actually turned out in 2016 compared to 84 percent of traditional registrants, CAP concludes that about 40 percent of automatically registered voters otherwise wouldn’t have participated in the election, meaning some 40,000 voters were added to the electorate. It’s likely that this effect could build in future elections as automatic registrations accumulate over time, particularly because voting is a habit-forming behavior.

This is just one study, and gauging a citizen’s propensity to vote is not easy, meaning far more research is needed. Additionally, Oregon makes it very easy to vote by mailing ballots to all registered voters, a procedure very few states use. Nonetheless, the available evidence strongly indicates that automatic registration is indeed working to increase voter participation. And following Oregon’s lead two years ago, five more states and D.C. have since joined it, while several other states are considering adopting similar policies in an effort to lower barriers to voter participation.

Voter Suppression

Kansas: On Thursday, Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced he would run for governor to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Sam Brownback in 2018. Gubernatorial elections are typically outside the Voting Rights Roundup’s purview, but since taking office after ousting an appointed Democratic incumbent in the 2010 GOP wave election, Kobach has used his position as the Sunflower State’s chief elections administrator to become one of America’s foremost crusaders for restrictive voting laws.

Under his advocacy, Kansas passed a burdensome proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration. This law would have effectively made voter registration drives next to impossible, since few people carry around such documents day-to-day, and many citizens don’t have easy access to them either. For Kobach, though, this regime worked exactly as planned: Kansas wound up suspending one in seven new voter registrations since 2013 under this law. Fortunately, a court ruled that this system violated federal law when it blocked a key component last year.

Not content to abuse civil law to suppress the vote, Kobach even convinced the state legislature to allow him to prosecute voter fraud as a criminal matter, making him the only secretary of state in the country with the power to do so. And yet in spite of his fanatic pursuit of fraud, Kobach has only ever successfully prosecuted one non-citizen voter, demonstrating yet again just how extremely rare such cases are.

Not only has Kobach been a leading opponent of voting rights in Kansas, his proposals have influenced Republicans around the country. Indeed, he has clout at the highest levels: Shortly after Donald Trump’s victory, Kobach was seen meeting Trump in D.C. while carrying documents that outlined proposed changes to federal voting laws. Following a lawsuit, a court ordered him to turn over those documents last month. Trump most recently named Kobach as the vice chair of his “voting integrity” commission, a thinly veiled fishing expedition to find more excuses to suppress the vote, and one that Democrats and voting rights advocates have widely condemned.

Kobach will still have to fight his way through a contested Republican primary, and after Brownback’s disastrous tenure, Democrats think they have a shot at the governorship even in dark red Kansas. But if Kobach wins, we can be certain that he will continue his crusade against voting.

 

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The Lovings ~~On June 12th, 1967, the Court’s ruling declared all laws against interracial marriage in the United States to be unconstitutional.


Mildred and Richard <b>Loving</b> visit Loving Day’s website.

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The Loving Story:

Richard P. Loving, and his wife Mildred, shown in this January 26, 1965 photograph, will file a suit at Federal Court in Richmond, Va., asking for permission to live as husband and wife in Virginia. Both are from Carolin County, south of Fredericksburg, Va., and were married in Washington in 1958. Upon their return the interracial couple was convicted under the state’s miscegenation law that bans mixed marriages. They received a suspended sentence on the condition they leave the state, but they now want to return to Virginia. (AP Photo)

With fight for same-sex marriage such a regular point of conflict today, it’s easy to forget about the first fight for marriage equality: interracial marriage. But while anti-miscegenation laws may seem like a relic of the past, it wasn’t until 2000 that Alabama became the last state to adapt its constitutional laws on interracial marriage.

In 1967, the United States Supreme Court put an end to the prohibition of interracial marriage in the monumental case of Loving v. Virginia.

The case was sparked by Mildred Loving, née Jeter, who after discovering she was pregnant traveled with boyfriend Richard Loving and from their home in Virginia to Washington, D.C. They made the move to evade Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited them from marrying John was a white male while Mildred was black and Native American.

Five weeks after their nuptials, they returned to Virginia. An anonymous tip led to a police raid. Instead of finding them having sex, which was another criminal offense at the time, they caught them sleeping in their marital bed. The couple was taken to jail after Mildred pointed out their D.C. marriage certificate. It was used as evidence of “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.”

The Lovings were sentenced to one year in prison, but it was suspended on the condition that the couple leaves Virginia and not return together for 25 years.

Initially they did just that, but by 1963, Mildred had enough and decided to write to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. The letter inspired Kennedy to connect her with the ACLU, which took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 12th, 1967, the Court’s ruling declared all laws against interracial marriage in the United States to be unconstitutional.

While cases like Brown v. Board of Education or Rosa Parks’ stand against segregation are taught regularly in schools, the Loving case gets less attention. Thirty-six years after the trial, Ken Tanabe first learned of the case as a grad student and founded the Loving Day Project to commemorate the anniversary. He, like many others, discovered it by accident.

“I realized that I might not be alive today (along with millions of other Americans) if it wasn’t for this case and those that came before it,” Tanabe, who is mixed race, told AOL via email.

The project has since expanded from its humble roots in New York City across the nation and even around the world.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 11 percent of Americans do not interracial marriage. When the Lovings were arrested the numbers, disapproval ratings were 94 percent. The falling disapprove numbers may appear to be a victory, but Tanabe says they are still worth worrying about.

“When Barack Obama was elected president, some people thought that racism was ‘over.’ While his election was an important sign of progress, it’s dangerous to believe we can stop being vigilant and proactive,” Tanabe explained. “The stories surrounding Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and so many others are some well-known examples. Racism also affects interracial couples and multiracial people every day.”

Rather than remain mutually exclusive, Loving Day embraced, and been embraced, by the LGBTQ community. On the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling, Mrs. Loving urged that gay men and lesbians should be allowed to marry. A march has been planned for this year’s Loving Day in Abilene, TX by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

“We see Loving Day as an educational resource for everyone to learn more about the history of marriage and understanding it as a civil rights issue,” said Tenebe.

National attention turned to Loving v. Virginia in 2011 when ‘The Loving Story’ premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was purchased by HBO. This year, Jeff Nichols, writer and director of the Matthew McCounghey flick ‘Mud,’ announced he will direct a new Hollywood “Loving” film starring Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton.

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Puerto Rico voters back statehood, but opposition boycott results in low turnou


The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.

Puerto Rico: On June 11, residents of Puerto Rico voted on the future political status of their island commonwealth, which is currently an unincorporated territory—meaning the Constitution does not fully apply there—whose residents have been U.S. citizens for the last 100 years. Voters faced three non-binding choices: the status quo, statehood, or independence/free association with the U.S. Statehood won a near unanimous majority after opponents boycotted the vote, but preliminary turnout was accordingly just one-fourth of registered voters.

This referendum marks the fifth time that Puerto Rico citizens have had the option to vote for statehood. The most recent opportunity came in 2012, when two questions were on the ballot: The first asked whether voters wanted to change the island’s status, and the second asked what that status should look like if it changed. Most voted in favor of some form of change on the first question, and a larger majority supported statehood on the second question, but statehood failed to attain a majority among all ballots cast thanks to abstentions. With their struggle to beat statehood in recent head-on votes, opponents hope their boycott will deprive 2017’s referendum of political legitimacy.

Given Puerto Rico’s long-running deep financial crisis and economic struggles, statehood is likely to remain an appealing option for many. Congress has the power to admit Puerto Rico to the union with just a simple majority vote. Surprisingly, the national Republican Party platform has long favored honoring the wishes of Puerto Rico voters on this issue, and the territorial GOP strongly supports statehood. However, since Puerto Ricans living on the mainland have long voted overwhelmingly Democratic, it is unlikely that congressional Republicans would admit a new state that could very well elect two new Democratic senators and five Democratic representatives at the federal level.

But even if the GOP remains obstinate following a pro-statehood vote, congressional Democrats could admit Puerto Rico as the 51st state if they regain control of both chambers of Congress in 2018 or 2020. And as a matter of principle, Democrats should embrace statehood if Puerto Ricans themselves do. The island’s 3.4 million people are American citizens who are currently deprived of full voting rights and representation, and its admission as a state would mark a small step toward correcting Congress’ steep structural bias that over-represents white voters and under-represents Latinos compared to their proportions of the national electorate.

Senate

IN-Sen: State Rep. Mike Braun is the latest Republican to express interest in challenging vulnerable first-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly next year, saying that he expects to decide by Aug. 1 whether to run. Braun is reportedly capable of doing some self-funding. Meanwhile, state Attorney General Curtis Hill refused to rule out running when local political newsletter Howey Politics asked him about it on Tuesday, which is the first we’ve heard from him directly. Republicans currently only have a few relatively unknown candidates running, but Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer have both previously said they’re considering it, and both are widely expected to take the plunge.

Gubernatorial

VA-Gov: With next Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary almost here, Democrat Tom Perriello’s closing ad is a minute long spot that features nothing but Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders praising Perriello in their own words (with Obama’s endorsement coming from Perriello’s 2010 campaign). As Obama and Sanders speak at rallies and Warren talks to the camera, three of the party’s most popular national figures argue that Perriello will stand up for working families and do what’s right, even when it isn’t easy.

You may also have heard about a last-minute poll from Hampton University showing Perriello with a lead in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, but the survey’s methodology is so flawed that the only right approach is to dismiss it altogether. Hampton asked 741 likely primary voters who they’d back in the Democratic primary … then asked those same 741 likely primary voters who they’d back in the GOP primary. Since it’s illegal to vote in both gubernatorial primaries at once, this poll tells us absolutely nothing about what will happen on Tuesday.

House

FL-26: Hillary Clinton won Florida’s 27th Congressional District south of Miami by 57-41, making it her second-best seat that Republicans hold, but there has astonishingly been practically no public interest from Democratic candidates about challenging two-term GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo in 2018 … until now. In a recent interview with the Miami Herald, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell says that she is considering it and has met with party leaders in D.C. She is the president of a consulting firm that aids nonprofits with fundraising, which could mean she’ll have the chops to fundraise for what will be an expensive contest.

Mucarsel-Powell previously lost a state Senate race last year against Republican incumbent Anitere Flores by 54-46 in a district that Florida political data expert Matthew Isbell calculates favored Clinton 53-43. However, Republicans have long performed much better than Trump did downballot in this heavily Cuban-American region, Flores is relatively moderate and entrenched, and Mucarsel-Powell only entered that race a few months before Election Day. Consequently, Mucarsel-Powell’s 2016 campaign reportedly impressed Democratic operatives, and she might find greater success in 2018 running with more time to fundraise in a congressional seat that’s also bluer.

Curbelo won’t be a pushover after he easily dispatched flawed Democratic ex-Rep. Joe Garcia by 53-41 in an expensive 2016 race. However, his vote for Trumpcare provides Democrats with a major opening next year in a district where Trump is assuredly despised.

GA-06: On Friday, two new polls came out that have good news for Democrat Jon Ossoff in the swiftly approaching June 20 special election in suburban Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District. From GOP firm Landmark Communications on behalf of WSB-TV, the first poll finds Ossoff leading Republican Karen Handel 50-47. Landmark is one of the very few pollsters to release multiple surveys here, giving us a proper trendline. Their prior survey from the very end of May had found Ossoff ahead by 49-48, meaning this latest poll is a very slight improvement for Ossoff.

The other new poll is from Abt Associates for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which says Ossoff is ahead by an eye-popping 51-44 spread. However, when a poll looks too good to be true, it just might be, which is why we should interpret this survey with caution. Ossoff has led in the vast majority of recent polls, but almost all of them have found a much closer race. Furthermore, both parties are spending ungodly sums here, which is a sign that they potentially see the race as closer than a 7-point margin. It’s too soon to say whether Ossoff has indeed opened up a clear lead, but we’ll know soon enough when Election Day comes.

Meanwhile, Republicans are pulling out all the stops for Handel, with Mike Pence heading down to campaign with her on Friday. Judging by the latest fundraising reports, Handel can use all the help she can get. While Handel raised $3.8 million over the last two months—a huge sum for a more typical House race—that number pales in comparison to Ossoff’s $15 million over the same time period.

Republican outside groups have tried to back up Handel by spending heavily on TV ads, but federal law requires vendors give much cheaper ad rates to candidates themselves, meaning super PACs have to spent a lot more to reach the same number of viewers compared to Handel’s campaign itself. A recent Echelon Insights analysis found that, while Democrats have had just a 53-47 ad spending advantage, Team Blue has had a huge 64-36 advantage in “share of voice”—meaning the proportion of ads that actually reach voters.

Speaking of GOP super PACs, the Congressional Leadership Fund has another new ad out on Handel’s behalf. The first half tries to link Ossoff to Nancy Pelosi and wasteful big government spending, while the second half then praises Handel as someone who will protect taxpayers and create jobs.

Grab Bag

Daily Kos Elections: The Kosening: Daily Kos political director David Nir will talk about the upcoming Georgia special election and how Democrats can take back the House next year at a happy hour hosted by the Four Freedoms Democratic Club in New York City on Tuesday evening. The event will be held at Ryan’s Daughter on the Upper East Side and starts at 7 PM. RSVP here today!

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on this day … 6/12 1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was fatally shot in front of his home in Jackson, MS.


1099 – Crusade leaders visited the Mount of Olives where they met a hermit who urged them to assault Jerusalem.

1442 – Alfonso V of Aragon was crowned King of Naples.

1665 – England installed a municipal government in New York. It was the former Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam.

1812 – Napoleon’s invasion of Russia began.

1838 – The Iowa Territory was organized.

1839 – Abner Doubleday created the game of baseball, according to the legend.

1849 – Lewis Haslett patented a gas mask. (Patent US6529 A)

1897 – Carl Elsener patented his penknife. The object later became known as the Swiss army knife.

1898 – Philippine nationalists declared their independence from Spain.

1900 – The Reichstag approved a second law that would allow the expansion of the German navy.

1901 – Cuba agreed to become an American protectorate by accepting the Platt Amendment.

1912 – Lillian Russel retired from the stage and was married for the fourth time.

1918 – The first airplane bombing raid by an American unit occurred on World War I’s Western Front in France.

1921 – U.S. President Warren Harding urged every young man to attend military training camp.

1923 – Harry Houdini, while suspended upside down 40 feet above the ground, escaped from a strait jacket.

1926 – Brazil quit the League of Nations in protest over plans to admit Germany.

1935 – U.S. Senator Huey Long of Louisiana made the longest speech on Senate record. The speech took 15 1/2 hours and was filled by 150,000 words.

1935 – The Chaco War was ended with a truce. Bolivia and Paraguay had been fighting since 1932.

1937 – The Soviet Union executed eight army leaders under Joseph Stalin.

1939 – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was dedicated in Cooperstown, New York.

1941 – In London, the Inter-Allied Declaration was signed. It was the first step towards the establishment of the United Nations.

1944 – Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-tung announced that he would support Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in the war against Japan.

1948 – Ben Hogan won his first U.S. Open golf classic.

1963 – “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison, and Richard Burton premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City.

1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was fatally shot in front of his home in Jackson, MS.

1967 – State laws which prohibited interracial marriages were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

1971 – Tricia Nixon and Edward F. Cox were married in the White House Rose Garden.

1975 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was found guilty of corrupt election practices in 1971.

1979 – Bryan Allen flew the Gossamer Albatross, man powered, across the English Channel.

1981 – Major league baseball players began a 49 day strike. The issue was free-agent compensation.

1981 – “Raiders of the Lost Ark” opened in the U.S.

1982 – 75,000 people rallied against nuclear weapons in New York City’s Central Park. Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, and Linda Ronstadt were in attendance.

1985 – Wayne “The Great One” Gretsky was named winner of the NHL’s Hart Trophy. The award is given to the the league Most Valuable Player.

1985 – The U.S. House of Representatives approved $27 million in aid to the Nicaraguan contras.

1986 – South Africa declared a national state of emergency. Virtually unlimited power was given to security forces and restrictions were put on news coverage of the unrest.

1987 – U.S. President Reagan publicly challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

1990 – The parliament of the Russian Federation formally declared its sovereignty.

1991 – Russians went to the election polls and elected Boris N. Yeltsin as the president of their republic.

1991 – The Chicago Bulls won their first NBA championship. The Bulls beat the Los Angeles Lakers four games to one.

1992 – In a letter to the U.S. Senate, Russian Boris Yeltsin stated that in the early 1950’s the Soviet Union had shot down nine U.S. planes and held 12 American survivors.

1996 – In Philadelphia a panel of federal judges blocked a law against indecency on the internet. The panel said that the 1996 Communications Decency Act would infringe upon the free speech rights of adults.

1997 – Interleague play began in baseball, ending a 126-year tradition of separating the major leagues until the World Series.

1997 – The U.S. Treasury Department unveiled a new $50 bill meant to be more counterfeit-resistant.

1998 – Compaq Computer paid $9 billion for Digital Equipment Corp. in largest high-tech acquisition.

1999 – NATO peacekeeping forces entered the province of Kosovo in Yugoslavia.

2003 – In Arkansas, Terry Wallis spoke for the first time in nearly 19 years. Wallis had been in a coma since July 13, 1984, after being injured in a car accident.

2009 – In the U.S., The switch from analog TV transmission to digital was completed.