Voting

The Supreme Court is looking at the Voting Rights Act. As usual, Scalia makes some stupid statements:

The problem here, however, is suggested by the comment I made earlier, that the initial enactment of this legislation in a — in a time when the need for it was so much more abundantly clear was — in the Senate, there — it was double-digits against it. And that was only a 5-year term.
Then, it is reenacted 5 years later, again for a 5-year term. Double-digits against it in the Senate. Then it was reenacted for 7 years. Single digits against it. Then enacted for 25 years, 8 Senate votes against it.
And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.
I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.
That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have. It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose — they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act.

Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?

There are a couple stupid statements in this argument. First that being able to vote is a ‘racial entitlement’, I hope nothing needs to be said here. Second that a unanimous vote somehow shows that there’s a problem–perhaps in the past some people voted against it because they didn’t think discrimination was bad (I would think this would be obvious since some states were practicing segregation), but now everybody thinks it is? That can’t be it according to Scalia, it must be because of some kind of intimidation.

As noted here, I find it interesting that the Court (which would really be the conservative members) found that reporters who no longer phoned people to interview them had no standing:

to bring a constitutional challenge to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008, a law that authorizes dragnet spying on US persons even absent identification of specific targets. (Another constitutional challenge to the law, Jewel v. NSA, is still winding its way through the courts.)

but that those same judges seem to no problem with Shelby County, AL having standing to challenge the formula of the Voting Right Act despite the fact that:

If Congress were to write a formula that looked to the number of successful Section 2 suits per million residents, Alabama would be the number one State on the list.
If you factor in unpublished Section 2 suits, Alabama would be the number two State on the list. If you use the number of Section 5 enforcement actions, Alabama would again be the number two State on the list.
I mean, you’re objecting to a formula, but under any formula that Congress could devise, it would capture Alabama.

I also like this comment by Justice Sotomayor in response the attorney arguing for Shelby County saying the law should not apply to the county any more because there is no longer any problems with registering voters:

Counsel, the reason Section 5 was created was because States were moving faster than litigation permitted to catch the new forms of discriminatory practices that were being developed. As the courts struck down one form, the States would find another. And basically, Justice Ginsburg calls it secondary. I don’t know that I’d call anything secondary or primary. Discrimination is discrimination.
And what Congress said is it continues, not in terms of voter numbers, but in terms of examples of other ways to disenfranchise voters, like moving a voting booth from a convenient location for all voters to a place that historically has been known for discrimination.

The consensus seems to be that the Court will get rid of at least a major part of the act–it’s not like voting is a right, right?

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Voting rights and marriage | Petunias

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