It's time for the Friday Wrap, where your Burnt Orange Reporters comment on all the news that fits in a blockquote.
Leading off, here's a video that went viral this week and reminded America that sometimes good stuff does come from Texas. Ladies and gents, the heartwarming tale of Mitchell in El Paso:
Below the jump, get caught up on marriage equality, Austin's African-American influence, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Voting Rights Act, border security, and the Houston Area Asian Survey.
With so much attention paid to the pending SCOTUS decision on California's Prop 8, some high-profile Republicans seem to be coming around on marriage equality. Dozens of prominent Republicans signed a legal brief in support of LGBT Americans' constitutional right to marry.
It's a great step forward, but note that only former officeholders and appointees signed the letter. Elected Republicans have largely held back, and Speaker of the House John Boehner continues to spend precious tax dollars defending DOMA. While some Republicans may have evolved, I'm guessing the primary electorate hasn't, since so few officeholders will come on board with the likes of Dick Cheney. If his mechanical heart can warm to marriage equality, there's hope for everyone.
Between former Tax Assessor Nelda Wells Spears retiring and County Judge Sam Biscoe leaving at the end of this term, changes to the city charter, and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole being termed out, it's not clear yet if we are in the waning period of a short golden age of African American influence over Austin and Travis County.
SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor put the smackdown on Texas-based US Attorney Sam Ponder this week for making an extremely racist argument when he argued that race played a role in establishing a defendant's guilt.
Later on, during a hearing on the Voting Rights Act, she got down to business with the attorney representing Shelby County, Alabama, in its challenge to the law, and even got meme'd for it:
Speaking of the VRA, the Voting Rights Act may be in some trouble. Maybe not, though, so here's to hoping. Now would be the worst time for a major part of the VRA to be held unconstitutional, because Congress, through the Republican caucus, is in no position to pass a remedy.
Tuesday, Rep. Pete Gallego — who represents the longest stretch of the Texas-Mexico border in Congress — made it clear that the single biggest threat to border security is actually sequestration. His district contains a number of strategic military bases including Ft. Bliss in El Paso and Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio that could face furloughs in the tens of thousands.