High Court Rolls Back the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Racially-troubled counties no longer need federal ok to change local election laws.

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NAACP field director Charles White speaks outside the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington on June 25, 2013

William Faulkner famously wrote that, “the past is never dead. It’s not even past,” but the Supreme Court is deeply divided on that question—at least as it pertains to the historic Voting Rights Act. By a slim 5-vote majority, the justices struck down a provision that requires certain jurisdictions, mostly counties in the South, to receive permission from the federal government before changing any law related to voting.

The list of places is based on blatant race discrimination in a troubled past now 40 years distant, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “The conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterizes voting in the covered jurisdictions,” he declared, noting that “African-American voter turnout has come to exceed white voter turnout in five of the six states originally covered” by the provision.

Arguing that the past is still with us were four dissenting justices, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doing the writing. Noting that Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act as recently as 2006—including its list of covered jurisdictions—Ginsburg maintained that the lawmakers found after extensive study that “40 years has not been sufficient time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination following nearly 100 years” of racial discrimination. While poll taxes and literacy tests no longer bar black citizens from exercising their franchise, subtler modes of discrimination are still employed to dilute the impact of their votes, Ginsburg wrote. She cited such practices as at-large elections of city council members (allowing a white majority to elect the entire council) and annexation of majority-white neighborhoods to raise the percentage of white voters in a given jurisdiction.

None of the justices disputed the fact that the Voting Rights Act was necessary and constitutional when it was first enacted in 1965. That was the year Martin Luther King Jr. led a march through Alabama in support of the law, from Selma to Montgomery, only to be attacked by white state troopers along the way. Existing laws, which required expensive and time-consuming lawsuits to challenge each example of racial discrimination, were insufficient to enforce voting rights across hundreds of jurisdictions in states determined to resist equal rights.  “Case-by-case litigation had proved inadequate to prevent such racial discrimination in voting,” Roberts wrote. Stronger medicine was needed in the jurisdictions that were most determined to suppress minority voters.

In challenging the 2006 extension of the law, authorities in Shelby County, Alabama—suburban Birmingham—argued that the conditions that earned their county a place on the list of covered jurisdictions no longer apply. Ginsburg and her associates (Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) weren’t buying it. Given the racial polarization of Alabama’s political parties, she observed, such practices as drawing district boundaries and scheduling elections—the ordinary push and pull of party strategists jockeying for advantage—may produce outcomes that dilute black votes.

The majority (which included Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito) ruled that Congress must do a fresh analysis of contemporary voting patterns to create a new list of covered jurisdictions. But politically speaking, that’s unlikely to happen. While passage of the original list wasn’t easy, the charter members were obvious to most Americans at a time when civil rights workers were being beaten and murdered, and Southern governors were openly defying federal civil rights laws.

In saying that the right to vote shall be enforced the same way everywhere in the United States, the Court has announced that the nation has moved beyond that era of blatant discrimination. While acknowledging that discrimination continues in subtler ways, the majority preferred to focus on the extensive improvement wrought by the Voting Rights Act. The previous day, the Court hinted that something similar may be true of race-based affirmative action programs. Desperate times once called for desperate measures in American race relations, but at the Supreme Court, those desperate days are over.

46 comments
datracker
datracker

Subject: Revise the Voting Rights Act's Formula and Attach it to the Immigration Bill!


It makes no sense to help people achieve citizenship when their basic right  to vote, their ability to help steer, participate and help govern is undermined. Therefore revise the formula and attach it to the Immigration Bill. The legitimacy and need for this amendment can easily be explained to all minorities based on the recent election. 

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

SCOTUS.  The gift that just keeps on giving, and giving, and giving....to the right wing.  You out there that say your vote is unimportant, please look at the mirror and tell yourself over and over that the nomination power of a President is not very important.   We are gonna be stuck with "Justice" Thomas and Scalia and Roberts for another twenty years.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@BobSheepleherder

This is serious enough for me to put my response here.

First, yes, it is about race and it is due to the fact that any black American at least 50 years old has an intimate knowledge, and may possibly have even risked death to retain their rights.

So yes, it is about race.

That said, there are only two conclusions about you that I can make:

1. You are a Machiavellian to the core, which means you have no place here in the United States.

or

2.  You are self-assured, to the point of psychosis, that the GOP agenda an absolute and unassailable truth

Which is it?  Maybe the "sheeple" might just be you!

WingcomWatchdog
WingcomWatchdog

It's a sad day when Alabama can win a Voting Rights decision in the Supreme Court while we have Eric Holder in the Attorney General's Office and Barack Obama in the White House. All I can say is power has shifted, and politics (voting) won't be as SAFE as it used to be!

deksoftwareint
deksoftwareint

Shame on America. On a day that Nelson Mandela lies near death the Republicans on the Supreme Court tore apart the voting rights act. We have no right as a nation to cast judgement on other countries lack of freedom when we continue to deny people of color a right that every American is entitled to. A superpower is not measured by the size of its economy or the size of its military but instead by how it treats its citizens and in that regard we are most definitely not a superpower.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@curt3rd and other GOPers:

Keep in mind that 40% of all black American voters are actually conservatives.

That amounts to approximately 7,000,000 new votes for the GOP if you would start wising up and stop your rediculous conduct in regards to race. 

Is Rush Limbaugh worth that much to you?

If he is, then this is on you: You were kicked in the teeth twice by black American voters, in 2008, and again in 2012, and even with that, the national vote margins were less than that!

jmac
jmac

A doubled-edged gift to GOP.   Those that had to wait hours in line to vote in the general might not show up at the polls for the mid-term as certainly Congress isn't going to act on voter intimidation.     So the mid-term could bring even more wingers into a party already over-laden with wingers.   Good job!   

curt3rd
curt3rd

New England has a long history of discriminating against Catholics, Jews, and Irish. Why shouldn't the Voting Rights Act put federal oversight over New England?California has a long history of discriminating against Latinos and East Asians (remember the Japanese internment camps?). Why shouldn't the Voting Rights Act put federal oversight over California?The Entire USA has a long history of discrimination and genocide of the collective Native American Nations. Why shouldn't the Voting Rights Act put Native American oversight over all federal activities?

If we're going to use legislation to enact vengeance for historical ills, why stop at the Civil War?

smither
smither

Interesting!  Not sure what states etc. were included in the original but I do know in the last election that redistricting and inconvenient, for some, voting hours were changed in order to bias the outcome.

j45ashton
j45ashton

What this means in reality is that nothing new will pass because there will be deadlock in the House of Reps because Republicans know that politically, doing nothing favors them.  Meanwhile, during the time when there's no enforcement, Red States will go back to their old tactics because for a majority of whites there, the Civil war never ended.  There will be new stories in the news about voter suppression in Southern states, and the white majorities in these state legislatures & tea party activists will just laugh themselves sick over the federal government's inability to monitor voter suppression.  Another step backward thanks court activists appointed by Geo W Bush...the biggest jerk ever to live in the white house.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@fitty_three@BobSheepleherderNo, you are not even close to "serious". You play the race card like you know something about discrimination, I seriously doubt you do. Yes, there are many, likely most, black Americans who have suffered discrimination. Many suffer it still. There are other minorities who suffer the exact same thing but you aren't interested in that. But that's not the point is it. The point is, YOU use racial prejudice as a bludgeon for your own agenda and that agenda is not to make things better, it's to use race as a stepping stone to wherever it is you think you want to go. This article is about one particular aspect of the Constitution. A simple, straightforward question of whether the rule still has any meaning in the current milieu, but you drag  the same old dead horse about "republicans" (which I'm not, not that it matters) and black voter suppression in the last two elections and of course "race". I call BS on you. Plain and simple as that. Educate yourself, then you can do something about what the REAL problem is, instead of playing a game you don't even understand.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@WingcomWatchdog  

The rule of law.  The SC has the last say in the matter.  

That's why there is such a tussle between the parties over appointments.  Eric Holder and Obama right now are powerless, unless a strategy can be worked out legislatively that will put the GOP in a very, very bad light.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@deksoftwareint "deny people of color a right"??? Where did SCOTUS do that? When you push your premise to the point where it loses any rational meaning you lose the argument ... you have lost the argument. 

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@fitty_three @curt3rd If your entire argument is that the law is "useful" for kicking people in the teeth for past wrongs, you obviously missed the whole point of the legislation.

therealdude
therealdude

@curt3rd Because the legislation addressed problems that happened way after the Civil War. I don't recall hearing about Catholics, Jews and Irish being beaten and blasted with water hoses in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. And although SCOTUS IS right that the country HAS changed, look at the Paula Deen fiasco....It's changed but discrimination, especially in the south, is still there.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Oh, and might I suggest you not use the Japanese internment.

Why?

Because they were compensated, something that you, in your denialistic, semi-bigoted worldview of people you know nothing about, would never accept for black Americans even though they deserve it as well.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@curt3rd  

Because, dummy, it's a problem.  You act like nothing ever happened, and there, my friend is where you're not only hypocritical, but you would have screamed bloody arfing murder if it happened to you.

Remember idiot:

Every black American over the age of 50 has dealt with this issue, sometimes to the point of death. You had better learn to respect their history.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@smither  

What was even more interesting is that the black community, nationwide, got fed up and kicked the GOP in the teeth for it in 2012.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@BobSheepleherder

First of all, I'm white and my wife is black, we've been married 29 years.  I have 17 in laws on my wife's side and one brother and sister on my wife's side.  I have 152 nieces and nephews from all walks of life, and ethnic background. I've been around the black community for 40 years.

Now is the time to take you apart:

1. "There are other minorities who suffer the exact same thing but you aren't interested in that. But that's not the point is it. The point is, YOU use racial prejudice as a bludgeon for your own agenda and that agenda is not to make things better, it's to use race as a stepping stone to wherever it is you think you want to go."

 Oh, I'm interested in it, all right. Obviously, with 17 in laws, there are those in the family who remember, as I do, those days. Where do you get off disrespecting their experiences? Many of them have seen "strange fruit" and other interesting things that you may need to look up. 

And as far as "my agenda", it's to ensure that people like you, who have Machiavellian sentiments clearly written all over you, from having a snowballs chance hell to try to assert your ideology.

"This article is about one particular aspect of the Constitution."

2. This is likely to be the only area we agree.

"A simple, straightforward question of whether the rule still has any meaning in the current milieu, but you drag  the same old dead horse about "republicans" (which I'm not, not that it matters) and black voter suppression in the last two elections and of course "race". 

3. Southern Strategy is a fact.  On the GOP front, try looking up what the SPLC has to say about it. And GOP voter suppression was in the news all of the post 2012 rehash. 

 The black Americans I know, and many I've talked to online and over the phone in Indiana, Ohio, Texas, SC, NC, Alabama, and Louisiana (where my wife's mother and father were driven out of because she wore the same dress as a white woman) all were furious, and were organizing - and effectively countering - the GOP efforts to obstruct them.

"I call BS on you. Plain and simple as that. Educate yourself, then you can do something about what the REAL problem is, instead of playing a game you don't even understand" 

That's a Machiavellian strategy too: demonize your opponent. It works, sometimes, but in this case?

NOT!


fitty_three
fitty_three

To elaborate a bit, there's the rampant racial hatred for political gain in 2008, and in 2012, it was voter obstruction.

"Kicked in the teeth" is an expression - but appropriate - for what happened to the GOP because in both cases, the backlash was costly to them and they (the GOP) hasn't learned.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@BobSheepleherder 

Where did you get that idea?  They voted.

The GOP got kicked in the teeth for their current ills, namely 2008 and 2012.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Thats your arguemen?.  A t.v. personality made a racist joke?

fitty_three
fitty_three

@BobSheepleherder

A wee bit of practical Machiavellian ideology?

Move to a country where the practice it.  I'm not sure where that might be, but in this country, politics isn't and shouldn't be above the law.

curt3rd
curt3rd

I was just making a point that black people are not the only people to be discriminated against.  I dont understand why you are such an angry person and have to always resort to calling someone a racist or bigot.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@BobSheepleherder 

First, 

Experience trumps everything.  I know when, what and why someone is disinforming nonblzck Americans about the black community.  I know it well, others don't.  I live with, am surrounded by, and moreover, my kids also share the experiences of what you claim to know about.  Maybe you do, maybe you don't, you could even be black, but none of that would change what I've said.

As for not caring about "theories" it is clear that you affiliate yourself with the GOP. I'm guessing Libertarian, which is actually worse.  How do I know this?

By your conduct with others on this blog, it's not rocket surgery, or line 999, it's obvious.  

Also, the fact that you want to "whitewash" the GOP image and history by denying the open secret of Southern strategy and the GOP role, particularly in the late 70s all through these elections, in which such tribalism is breathing it's last breath.

If I can help bury it, and your beliefs as well, well, just hand me the shovel. Is that Machiavellian enough for ya?

Now, as for your Machiavellian attitude :

You seem to think that motivation is more important than the crime, it's not.  For you, it's ok because you believe, in line with GOP talking points, that it has nothing to do with race.  It's not relevant because while the CRA which was enacted in 1964 addressing the specific racial issue of black American voting rights, the act of obstruction, coupled with the GOP's continuous denigration of the black community and the continued pressing of Southern Strategy renders that motivation invisible to the black community.

It's a distinction without a difference, a stench without the skunk, regardless of your attempts to justify it based on motivation alone. You can't make it stick:

You, idiot, should be commending the black community for taking action, the kind of action you criticized in crazed all caps to some of the other posters below for supposedly not taking. They did exactly what gerrymandering, which is based on race, couldn't stop.

Kudos for the black community.  F* ck you.


BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@fitty_three @BobSheepleherder I suppose you think having minorities "in the family" gives you some special insight into the "black experience", perhaps, but when you have been discriminated against, personally and to your face on an ongoing basis, you come back and tell me how it feels.

I'm not the least bit interested in your theories on Republican conspiracies to disenfranchise the black voters because they are black. IF the Republicans have a desire to disenfranchise the black vote it is because they vote Democrat not because they are black.

I'm not the least bit interested in "demonizing". I don't know you, I don't know or care if you are lying. I judge you by what you write. So far I think it's mostly self-serving BS. Machiavelli would understand that, but than again so would Gandhi. Understanding the art, doesn't make one an artist.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@BobSheepleherder 

Aren't you being just a bit oblivious to the fact that black Americans turned out in force that day in a backlash against the practice?

Where were you, Mars?

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@MrObvious @BobSheepleherder @fitty_three Don't complain about how long the lines were, volunteer to work at a voting center. There were NO segregated voting centers, THAT is a fact. YOUR community reflects what happens in your community. If YOU choose not to participate, that is YOUR problem not the "white guy in the suburbs" who worked to get voting centers close to where they work and live. YOU could have done the same thing, if you were inclined to do it instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you..

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@fitty_three @BobSheepleherder You haven't the vaguest idea who or what I am but thank you for exemplifying my point. In your mind EVERYTHING has to do with race. You know what they call someone who thinks it's all about race, don't you??

fitty_three
fitty_three

@BobSheepleherder 

Actually yes I can, and the truth of the matter is that there was a widespread reaction to it in the black community.

And political mechanization that interfere with a fundamental right, that people fought and died for, is reprehensable.

The very fact you make excuses for it belies your lack of empathy:

You would scream bloody murder if someone did it to you.

But IOKYR, right?

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@fitty_three You state "they voted" and then claim "voter obstruction". You can't have it both ways, either "they", voters, have the ability to vote or they don't. Near as I can tell, the only thing preventing people from voting is apathy. Pretending that political machinations are anything but political is irresponsible and wrong. Racist still exist but they are less of a problem than the current efforts to inject race into anything and everything that people don't agree with.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@BobSheepleherder 

Oh, I see.  You're now a victim because your ignorance and lack of humanity is not respected.

Yup. "Haters are people too." How pc of me...

fitty_three
fitty_three

@curt3rd  

Because of what you ascribe to.  It's racist, or didn't you happen to see the definition of racism and your pet GOP belief system regarding it.

And if you want to call me angry, you can.  I call it assertive.

It comes from long, hard earned knowledge about a subject that you've only heard about from Rush.  And a bigoted white guy like him is NOT where you should be getting your information on the black community.

My suggestion:

Talk to the 97% of those black Americans who won't vote for the GOP, because half of 'em are conservatives!