Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Perpetuating Racial Entitlement?"

I heard it earlier today in a news report and thought I must have heard it wrong: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia could not POSSIBLY have dismissed voter protection as "racial entitlement" -- Seriously??? And yet, there it was "Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through normal political processes."

And all I could think about was how far we've come as a nation and how far we have yet to go until that "liberty and justice for all" thing is a reality and not just a pledge ... and about the price people like Jonathan Daniels paid to get us to where we are ... and about the responsibility we have to make no peace with oppression until justice really does roll down like water -- and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.
O God of justice and compassion, who put down the proud and the mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and afflicted: We give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one: who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


marnanel said...

The icon is beautiful-- do you know who wrote it?

RonF said...

There are sections from the IG's report that would seem to buttress Justice Scalia's proposition. Citing from the report.

Page 11:

"The language of Section 2 enacted in 1965 provided: 'No voting
qualifications or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race
or color.'”

Remember that the investigation that this report was produced to describe was prompted members of the House of Representatives wishing to have an accounting of the refusal of the DoJ to investigate actions by self-described Black Panthers at voting booths that allegedly targeted white voters. That would seem to fall within the definition above of a practice. However, on page 89 of the report we see:

"In both public filings and statements to the OIG, the Division has stated that it interprets the non-retrogression principle of Section 5 to be 'race-conscious,' in that it does not cover White citizens when they are in the
numerical minority in a covered jurisdiction." and "In a February 2011 letter to the OIG and in his OIG interview, CRT AAG Perez stated that interpreting Section 5’s retrogressive-effect standard to not cover White citizens was consistent with the Division’s longstanding practice, as well as case law interpreting the provision
and the intent behind its enactment. Perez also told the OIG that he believed interpreting the retrogressive-effect prong of the analysis to cover White citizens
would be inconsistent with the history of and intent behind Section 5, which he stated was enacted to remedy the specific problem of discrimination against
racial minorities."

Note that Mr. Perez did not hold that the white people involved had not been subject to racial discrimination. He held that the law should not protect white people from discrimination. In other words, while the law appears to have been written to protect racial groups that were in a minority in a particular jurisdiction, the DoJ is interpreting it as only applying to groups that are in a minority nationwide.

It's not quite clear to me what Justice Scalia meant by the term "racial entitlement". However, it seems to me that you could well consider the DoJ's attitude towards the Voter Civil Rights Act as being a racial entitlement in that only particular races are entitled to its protections.