Skip to comments.Left Lives in the Past on Voting Rights
Posted on 06/26/2013 12:09:11 PM PDT by neverdem
Listen to the hue and cry from liberals over the Supreme Courts decision(PDF) today in Shelby County v. Holder and you would think the conservative majority had just overturned Brown v. Board of Education or declared discrimination on the basis of race to be legal. Of course, the 5-4 decision on the future of the Voting Rights Act did nothing of the kind. The high court not only reaffirmed the validity of the act but also even left in place Section 5, which created a mechanism that would require pre-clearance by the federal government of any changes in voting procedures in states and localities that were deemed by Congress to be habitual violators of the right to vote. But what it did do was to declare the existing formula stated in Section 4 to be the places where such scrutiny would be carried out to be unconstitutional. The reason for this is so obvious that it barely deserves to be argued: the Jim Crow south that Congress put under the federal microscope five decades ago isnt the same place today. If there is to be a formula that would require some places to get the governments prior permission to do anything that affects voting, it should be one based on the current situation, not one crafted to deal with the problems faced by Americans during the Lyndon Johnson administration.
Why then are political liberals and the so-called civil rights community so riled up about the decision? Some are merely offended by the symbolism of any alteration in a sacred piece of legislation. But the reason why the left is howling about this isnt so much about symbolism as it is about their ability to manipulate the law to their political advantage. Under the status quo, enforcement of the Voting Rights Act isnt about reversing discrimination so much as it is in applying the political agenda of the left to hamper the ability of some states to enact commonsense laws, such as the requirement for photo ID when voting or to create districts that are not gerrymandered to the advantage of liberals. By ending pre-clearance until Congress puts forward a new scheme rooted in evidence of systematic discrimination going on today, it has placed all states on an equal footing and made it harder for the Obama Justice Department to play politics with the law. It has also given racial hucksters that continue to speak as if a nation that has just re-elected an African-American president of the United States was little different from the one where blacks couldnt vote in much of the country.
The Voting Rights Act was needed in 1965 because for a century the federal government had failed to enforce the 15th Amendmentthat guaranteed the right to vote of former slaves and any other American citizenin the states of the old Confederacy. Though Americans were long taught that the period of Radical Reconstruction that followed the Civil War was an abuse that was rightly abandoned, the truth is the attempt to reconstruct the south didnt go far enough and was ended too soon. What ensued was a Jim Crow regime in the south that was kept in place by a Democratic coalition of northern liberals and southern racists and enabled by apathetic Republicans. That is a sorry chapter of American history, but the achievements of the civil rights era have put it firmly in our past.
The reality of 2013 is that even the left is hard pressed to find anyplace in the country where anyone who is legally entitled to vote and wants to exercise their franchise is being prevented from doing so. Stating that is not to deny that racism still exists in some quarters of American society anymore than any other species of hatred. Nor does it imply that our electoral system is perfect or incapable of betterment. But to leave in place a legal formula that treated some states differently than others solely because of history is not only absurd, it is unconstitutional discrimination. In a country where, as it was argued before the court, Mississippi may have a more healthy voting rights environment in some respects than Massachusetts, preserving the battle lines of the fight against Jim Crow is not only meaningless, it actually hampers efforts to combat illegal practices.
But the main interest of those dedicated to preserving the status quo wasnt in preventing states from denying a right to vote that is not in question. It was in holding onto their capacity to use federal law to prevent some states from passing voter ID laws that have been wrongly branded as a form of discrimination or voter suppression. The vast majority of Americansincluding the members of those groups that civil rights advocates claim will be injured by voter ID lawsthink these measures are merely a matter of common sense to ensure the integrity of the election system. But by disingenuously waving the bloody shirt of Jim Crow, the left has sought to brand race-neutral laws like voter ID a form of racism.
Opponents of the majority decision claim this is a judicial usurpation of the prerogative of the legislature since Congress has re-authorized the Voting Rights Act without changing the formula that placed all or parts of 15 states under the Justice Departments control with regard to voting. But that is due to the fact that the vote to retain the act became a ritual by which members were forced to prove their anti-racist bona fides, not a rational debate about the actual provisions of the law. Congress lacked the courage to face facts on a part of the law that had past its expiration date, so the court was forced to deal with it.
Neither this decision nor the debate that will follow it will affect the ability of Americans to vote because that is a right that is no longer in dispute. What it will do is send a reminder to Americans that we have moved on from our unhappy past and that if we are to protect voting rights, it must be done on the basis of reality rather than sentiment or symbolism. That will make it harder for the left to accuse their opponents of racism without basis. But an American society that has thankfully moved on from this debate will be better off for it.
States Rights have proven to be Constitutional, again!
“As an ordained U.U. Reverend, I suggest not fireworks, but sackcloth and ashes for this Fourth of July!”
Japan and Germany have been making their own decisions for years, but the southern states (and some other isolated areas) of the USA have been treated like occupied territories for 148 years. The people who hate us the most have never been down here. I’m sure of that, because once you get a Yankee in here you can’t run ‘em off with a stick.
Since, as Justice Roberts pointed out, a larger percentage of blacks (relative to their numbers) vote in Mississippi than in Massachusetts, maybe its time to give us Southerners equal rights for a change.
I sometimes wondered myself if Reconstruction hadn't been ended in 1877, or maybe if (as Thaddeus Stevens wanted) the former Confederate states had been restored to territorial status for a while before being re-admitted, if the whole "jim crow" episode might have been avoided. And if "jim crow" had been avoided, maybe the entire American Black community, part of this country since at least 1619, would not have been transformed into a bloc of hard-left "intellectuals" agitating for "gay rights" and a "naked public square."
“...but the southern states (and some other isolated areas) of the USA have been treated like occupied territories for 148 years.”
Sadly, white Southerners are the architects of their own “occupation” because of their obsessive problems with black Americans doing things like...using the same bathroom....eating nearby...or voting. Those were your racist laws, not something imposed on you by yankees. If the affected States were following the 15th Amendment under their Constutitional obligations, the voting laws would never have been passed.
The court is saying that you folks have finally fixed your s**t. Hopefully that is finally true.
It will make my mother happy; an AMERICAN of hispanic decent from New Mexico (a Southern State too btw) who visited y’all in 1957 with my white father and was told point blank that “darkies” weren’t allowed to use the white bathroom.
Again, it’s good you folks finally fixed your crap. This was a good ruling.
BTW, Southern whites were a big bunch of hypocrites for putting their racial identity ahead of their religious identity. And Blacks are doing the same thing now, and it's just as bad.
“...there never should have been a jim crow.”
Remember, right after the war, the Radical Republicans went down there to fix all that. /irony
And I don’t think Southerners need to “atone” for their past. When something’s wrong, they need to fix their present and move ahead, which is what the ruling today says, right?
The Southern peoples and cultures have a long, rich, varied history. Our old enemies were honorable men. Southerners in general have faced up to their racist past more than any other people ever and have dealt with it. In my experience, Northerners are the ones who haven’t dealt with it, and should.
“Why is the Black community so hard left on every issue in existence?”
I say ideology. Conservatives/republicans flat-out lost the ideological battle however many years ago. Democrats offer a maternal state and perpetual victimhood status to folks in exchange for political loyalty.
In terms of social policy they are stuck in the 60’s, economic, the the 30’s. Reactionaries.