Contrary to intentionally vague reports from the mainstream media that the Supreme Court today, in Shelby County (AL) v Holder, struck down an “essential” provision at the “heart” of the 1965 Voting Rights Act today, it remains illegal for states and localities to deny anyone equal access to the polls based upon race.
Actually, in its 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court only struck down the pre-clearance section of the Act requiring all southern states (and a few localities outside the south) to obtain pre-clearance of any proposed voting (qualification, procedures or redistricting) changes from the U.S. Justice Department (or bring a action in federal court). President Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” in the ruling, which struck down the “pre-clearance” requirement in the act first passed by Congress in 1965 and reauthorized several times since — most recently in 2006:
“Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent,” Obama said in a statement released hours after the court’s decision.
Rep. John Lewis, who witnessed the signing of the Voting Rights Act into law in 1965 after he helped wage a bloody fight for civil rights in America, said today he was “shocked, dismayed and disappointed” the Supreme Court effectively struck down the heart of the landmark law. “What the Supreme Court did was to put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Lewis told ABC News. “This act helped liberate not just a people but a nation.”
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of Shelby County v. Holder – and invalidated an essential part of the Voting Rights Act, a cornerstone of American civil rights law. Like many others across the country, I am deeply disappointed with the Court’s decision in this matter. This decision represents a serious setback for voting rights – and has the potential to negatively affect millions of Americans across the country.
Only if keeping Republican “red” states under the thumb of liberal Democrats at the Justice Department is the key, core or essential purpose of the landmark civil rights law, has the high court put a “dagger” to its heart. But that is not the key purpose. The essential key core of the law is to make unlawful actual state action that discriminates against voter access to the polls based upon race. That portion of the statute and the Fifteenth Amendment upon which it is based, remains firmly intact.
What does not remain the law is the power of the federal government to pretend that we still live with a Jim Crow south from Texas to Virginia in A.D. 2013.
The court (via Chief Justice John Roberts opinion) left the possibility of future pre-clearance for states intact, but only if Congress were to pass a new law based upon current evidence of discrimination. Of course, since we live in nation so divided that constitutional amendments for mom, baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet couldn’t pass both houses of Congress (mainly because Democrats oppose all those American institutions unless mom is single, the National Pastime employs the DH, pies are made of broccoli and Impalas use batteries instead of gasoline lest the poor be able to afford to visit a grandmother more than two states away) there will be no new law. But if there were a new law passed based upon current state-by-state voting criteria based upon race, can you guess how, say Massachusetts’ lovers of the downtrodden and “evil” Mississippi would rank:
Which state today has the worst ratio between black and white turnout? Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. either didn’t know the answer or pretended not to. The Chief Justice informed him that it was Massachusetts, which is not covered under Section 5. Roberts then asked him which state has the best ratio, “where African American turnout actually exceeds white turnout?” Again, the solicitor general didn’t have the answer. In fact, it is Mississippi, one of the states covered under Section 5.
The Magnolia State actually has the highest total number (and not just the highest per capita) of minority representatives in Jackson and Washington, than any other state has in its state capitol and the nation’s. Meanwhile, in the Palmetto State an Indian American woman governs while sending an African-American to the U.S. Senate.
Times have changed, and did so over 30 years ago, but for Democrats to admit that John Lewis can’t safely traverse the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama, then the whole basis of the ongoing existence of that party would crumble. After all, Americans don’t look to Democrats for economic prosperity four-plus years into the Era of Obama, now do they?
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson