Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summertime Blues, Part I

"I'd like to help you, son, but you're too black to vote". -- In essence, this is what those cheering the Supreme Court's declaration that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA)* is unconstitutional are saying in their misguided and ignorant comments, and by their Voter ID actions in Texas . Yes, within a mere two hours of the decision Texas passed a clearly discriminatory disenfranchisement bill, and similar actions are possible in Mississippi in the very near future.

The decision, voted at 5-4 against the VRA, hinged upon the "obsolescence" of the formula and data used to apply Sections 4 (and 5), and the matter was sent back Congress for action -- or more appropriately, inaction (more on that later), and that is where Texas made what will likely turn out to be a major misstep.  The benighted legislators in the state, in moving within two hours to enact their Voter ID law, have provided the very data Congress will need to reinstate the VRA.  Thank you so much, Texas, for your inability to think farther ahead than five minutes from now.

However, having said that,  it is highly unlikely that congressional action will take place before the 114th Congress convenes on January 3, 2015.  Why?  Because House Speaker John "I'm a" Boehner will not let it happen.  It's called obstruction.  (Odd though, that while the Snowden scandal has rivited the attention of America, and while many Americans see his actions as those of a traitor, many of these same Americans cannot see that the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress is tantamount to treason.  Basically, sabotage is sabotage.)

Now what of the Justices (Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy) who voted to dismantle this key provision of the VRA? Perhaps their own words would best explain their actions.

In equating the VRA to "entitlements, Antonin "I-have-no-stinking-genes**" Scalia opined, "Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements,” it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”

John "I'm da Chief" Roberts wrote, "“Things have changed in the South ... blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare.”

Well, Justice Scalia, no, you are so incredibly wrong: voting is not an entitlement, it's a Constitutional right.  You didn't know that?  Maybe you should retire and take up snail raising.  

And Chief Justice Roberts, yes, things are better than they were fifty years ago, but racism still rears its ugly head and we have a long way to go, and mindless ruminations like yours and Scalia's do not move us forward, they anchor us to the past.

In closing, I's like to share the wise words of Justice Ginsburg, “The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective. The Court appears to believe that the VRA’s success in eliminating the specific devices extant in 1965 means that preclearance is no longer needed. With that belief, and the argument derived from it, history repeats itself.
To quote a friend, "may she live to be 120".

*Note that the decision on Section 4 also renders Section 5, which mandates that the Department of Justice to, via an administrative process that  requires the concurrence of the US District Court in DC to "pre-clear" changes to voting rights in certain states (based on prior history of disenfranchisement), unenforceable.
**In a recent decision, Scalia essentially denied the existence of genes.


Post a Comment

<< Home