Tuesday, June 25, 2013

All Saints Church join in outrage at Voting Rights Act ruling

All Saints Church joins with all those outraged by today’s Supreme Court action striking down a central part of the Voting Rights Act. The sharply divided decision will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination against African-Americans and turns back the clock on the fight to end discrimination in our nation.
“What this ruling means is that states and localities previously covered by Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act will now be able to implement changes first and victims will have to prove discrimination after the fact,” said All Saints’ rector Ed Bacon. “The sad truth is that as a nation we still have roadblocks designed to obstruct citizens of color from voting with ease and so we still need the checks and balances the Supreme Court removed this morning."

The court has done America a grave disservice in casting aside voting rights protections – which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice. It is a self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.

In the days and weeks ahead we will work with our justice allies to stand up, to speak out and to redouble our commitment to equality by calling on Congress to act to undo the damage inflicted by this regressive ruling.


RonF said...

Well, if you read the majority decision, the Justices don't deny that there's such a thing as discrimination; what they're saying is that the conditions of 1965 are not those of 2013 and that the methods used to remedy the conditions of 1965 can no longer be justified when those conditions no longer exist. That sounds reasonable to me. From the opinion:

"In 1965, the States could be divided into two groups: those with a recent history of voting tests and low voter registration and turnout, and those without those characteristics. Congress based its coverage formula on that distinction. Today the Nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were…."

So, then, say that Mississippi and Indiana pass the same Voter ID law that you think discriminates against certain classes of people. The Supreme Court holds that the law is constitutional. According to the old Section 4, the law in Indiana is not subject to pre-certification by the DoJ, but the one passed in Mississippi is. The fact that Mississippi in 1965 exhibited racial discrimination in voter registration and Indiana didn't is not justification for applying these different standards today.

The justices did NOT strike down the concept of pre-certification. They're saying it's use in such different fashion for the different States can no longer be justified. States have sovereignty, and each State is equally sovereign - but not under the old Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1965 the great disparity between the States' voter registration patterns justified subjecting some States but not others to special treatment. Such disparity no longer exists, so the uneven violation of some States' sovereignty but not others is a violation of the States' role under the Constitution (expecially with regards to Amendment 10).

The Court has left space for Congress to answer your call for action:

"Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in §2. We issue no holding on §5 itself, only on the coverage formula. Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions. Such a formula is an initial prerequisite to a determination that exceptional conditions still exist justifying such an “extraordinary departure from the traditional course of relations between the States and the Federal Government.” Presley, 502 U. S., at 500–501. Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions."

My emphasis.

If you are interested in analyses of this ruling by a couple of law professors I can recommend
http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/06/supreme-court-voting-rights-act-decision//#more and http://www.althouse.blogspot.com/2013/06/what-did-supreme-court-find.html

MarkBrunson said...

This is the beginning of the dismantling of civil rights, which is what the Republican Party, in it's radicalist incarnation today, has wanted all along. They cannot be "coexisted" with, any more than any other totalitarian regime.

uffda51 said...

“Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions.”

Yes, I’m sure John Boehner will get right on that, with the same urgency he has shown on climate change, immigration and jobs.
I’m sure the very representatives who rely on voter suppression to win elections will take immediate action to eliminate that suppression.

It’s true, the justices don't deny that there's such a thing as discrimination; they just think discrimination should no longer be illegal.

As one of my conservative friends told me “Even when you let those people vote, they don’t vote the right way.”

“Current conditions?”

Just two hours after the Supremes decision came down, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, issued a statement declaring that two measures blocked by the VRA last year, 2012 (not 1965), that involve voter ID and redistricting will go into effect immediately.

“Current conditions?”

Is 2012 “current?” During the 2012 presidential election, many Florida voters waited in long lines to exercise their constitutional right to vote for up to seven hours. GOP Gov. Rick Scott insisted on a shorter early-voting schedule, eight days instead of the previous 14, ensuring a logjam of people in some urban-county precincts. And we all know who lives in those “urban” counties.

I’ve been voting since 1972. I have never waited more than three minutes at a polling place and I’ve never waited in a line longer than three people, one of whom was my wife. I have never been asked to show ID. I’m sure Justice Roberts could say the same. So, he’s right, who needs the VRA? It’s not 1965 anymore.

I guess it all depends on one’s point of view.

Haley Barbour famously remembers race relations in Mississippi as being “not that bad” during the 60s. Congressman John Lewis, beaten within an inch of his life in Selma, Alabama, in 1961, might have a different opinion on that.

It may be 2013, but far too many people, and particularly Christians, still lack the ability to put that Golden Rule thingy that Jesus talked about into practice.