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Thu Jun 27, 2013, 03:07 AM

 

On Voting Rights, a Decision as Lamentable as Plessy or Dred Scott

Let's be clear about what has just happened. Five unelected, life-tenured men this morning declared that overt racial discrimination in the nation's voting practices is over and no longer needs all of the special federal protections it once did. They did so, without a trace of irony, by striking down as unconstitutionally outdated a key provision of a federal law that this past election cycle alone protected the franchise for tens of millions of minority citizens. And they did so on behalf of an unrepentant county in the Deep South whose officials complained about the curse of federal oversight even as they continued to this very day to enact and implement racially discriminatory voting laws.

In deciding Shelby County v. Holder, in striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the five conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, didn't just rescue one recalcitrant Alabama jurisdiction from the clutches of racial justice and universal enfranchisement. By voiding the legislative formula that determines which jurisdictions must get federal "preclearance" for changes to voting laws, today's ruling enables officials in virtually every Southern county, and in many other jurisdictions as well, to more conveniently impose restrictive new voting rules on minority citizens. And they will. That was the whole point of the lawsuit. Here is the link to the ruling.

In a 5-4 ruling over liberal dissent, the Supreme Court today declared "accomplished" a "mission" that has become more, not less, dire in the four years since the justices last revisited the subject. They have done so by focusing on voter turnout, which surely has changed for the better in the past fifty years, and by ignoring the other ruses now widely employed to suppress minority votes. In so doing, the five federal judges responsible for this result, all appointed by Republican presidents, have made it materially easier for Republican lawmakers to hassle and harry and disenfranchise likely Democratic voters. And they have done so by claiming that the Congress didn't mean what it said when it renewed the act by landslide votes in 2006.

<snip>

We should also be clear today about who the winners and the losers are in the wake of this opinion. The primary winners are vote suppressors in those many jurisdictions covered by Section 5, the politicians, lobbyists and activists who have in the past few years endorsed and enacted restrictive new voting laws in dozens of states. The legal burden now will be shifted from these partisans to the people whose votes they seek to suppress. This will mean that discriminatory practices will occur with greater frequency than they have before. The Constitution, the Court declared, must be color-blind and may not discriminate between states even if it means being blind to the political realities of a nation still riven by racial divides.

<snip>

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/on-voting-rights-a-decision-as-lamentable-as-plessy-or-dred-scott/276455/

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Reply On Voting Rights, a Decision as Lamentable as Plessy or Dred Scott (Original post)
cali Jun 2013 OP
enough Jun 2013 #1

Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 07:22 AM

1. A "national disaster."

Another snip from the article>

Even in those jurisdictions not covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, lawmakers will cite today's ruling to justify future restrictions on voting -- and in that sense this is a national disaster and not just a regional one. Proponents of racial redistricting, or voter identification laws that are really a poll tax, will find succor in today's ruling. And that means we will see more of these measures and, as we do, the people most directly impacted by them will have fewer ways in which to fend them off. The deterrent effect of Section 4, alone, was enormous. As U.S. District Judge John Bates remarked last year in a case out of South Carolina, its mere presence has stopped lawmakers from pitching hundreds more dubious laws.

snip>


This will certainly be true in my state, PA.

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