SCOTUS Drags the Voting Rights Act Into the 21st Century

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Well, it wasn’t vindication for the ObamaCare decision, but Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts exacto knifed another bench law special today that will be felt for a long time.

He he he, ha ha ha, and a couple of la-di-das.

In 1965, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was put into place to remedy racial discrimination, both in law and in practice, by requiring federal oversight in specific areas of the country (nine whole states and counties in a few others) where that discrimination was endemic.  In the 60’s.  When Lyndon Baines Johnson was president.  The states and locations where this federal oversight was still in effect until this morning were chosen/determined by a formula developed 48 years ago which remained unchanged despite a 2009 SCOTUS decision – also written by Chief Justice Roberts – which not so politely requested that Congress revisit the VRA and rewrite the formula.

Well, that didn’t happen.  Congress rubber-stamped the darn thing for another 25 years.

That would be another 25 years of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Arizona and Alaska having to clear ANY changes in their voting laws through Washington before they could take effect, even if a popular vote was involved.

From The Washington Times:

…the justices said after five decades, the law has had a dramatic effect in ending discrimination in voting, and said Congress must now come up with new ways of deciding who still needs federal oversight.

Beneath the legal ruling is a broader social statement, with the justices saying that a state cannot be perpetually held responsible for past discrimination if there’s no evidence that it still exists.

Congress —if it is to divide the states — must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions. It cannot rely simply on the past,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority.

The ruling leaves in place many of the protections of the 1965 law, such as banning literacy tests. But it said the federal government can no longer treat some jurisdictions differently because of discrimination that may have ended decades ago.

“If Congress had started from scratch in 2006, it plainly could not have enacted the present cover- age formula. It would have been irrational for Congress to distinguish between states in such a fundamental way based on 40-year-old data, when today’s statistics tell an entirely different story,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

That means that elections in the United States are a whole new ballgame.

By the original rules, laws, agreements, call them what you will, of this Republic, there are a limited number of topics that require federal oversight and jurisdiction: treason, laws pertaining to commerce, international treaties, etc.  Voting laws, until 1965, were not among them.  By specific purpose, those decisions were left to the states, and with this decision Chief Justice Roberts sends them BACK to the states where they belong as, technically, there is no single office decided by true nation-wide popular vote.  The office of president is fifty separate elections where the popular vote is really a courtesy to the people.  (Go back and read the rules of the Electoral College.)  There simply is no need for federal oversight if racial discrimination no longer exists.

To say that this is a victory for the political right is an understatement.  This means that when Secretaries of State nationwide go to purge voter rolls of the dead in their respective states, no US Attorney General can call them and say stop.  This means voter ID laws are legal any way the states themselves see fit, so long as no civil rights of citizens – the only people who should be voting – are violated.  (I’m all for requiring a photo ID and proof of citizenship.)  This means that with fair, non-discriminatory laws, there is a real check against the tyranny of executive branch power grabs.

What it also means is that the democratic stranglehold on elections where districts are gerrymandered is more likely to end.  (The race-baiters are in quite the tizzy today.)

What is interesting in the blowback from this decision is that the majority of pundits, columnists and the like all say that Congress is not likely to take up rewriting that 1965 gerrymandering formula any time soon.  Far from simply having too much on their plates, it is agreed that the congressscritters just don’t have what it takes to redo the formula, updating it to reflect CURRENT realities, not those in 1965.

(Is this an admission that the democratic dingbats showcased in the Foggy Bottom Theater of Scandal hearings are considerably less than valedictorian material?????  Demonstrating that alone is worth having the darn side shows on TV.)

Huh.

And so the politcal right has a MAJOR victory under Barack Obama.  With all luck it’s not too late.

p.s. Texas wasted no time:  Texas voter ID law “will take effect immediately,” says Attorney General Greg Abbott

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Categories: Politics

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7 replies

  1. And when Amnesty is rammed down our throats it will all become a moot point

  2. And good on Texas, again.

  3. And you could have added: Kicking and Screaming’ to the title, I think. This may be the most significant ruling of this session…
    It’s refreshing to see the Court finally recognize the morbidity of a superannuated law like this. Pray that it will proceed in this direction, divesting us of our encrusted accumulation of well-intended but now useless or even, destructive, obsolete legislation!

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  1. Can the Left Win Without Disenfranchising Legit Voters? « The Constitution Club

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