In a 5 to 4 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the USSC ruled that Section 4, which establishes the formula that determines which jurisdictions are subject to federal “preclearance” of changes in election laws, is unconstitutional. Congress will now have to decide which areas of the country still deserve additional federal scrutiny. That says to Washington, you cannot discriminate in writing laws – even laws that try to end discrimination.
Imagine the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent laws drafted from its framework being addressed only to the former confederate states. No one in an elected office would have voted for that; yet, we passed a law that allows the U.S. Justice Department to discriminate in their jurisdictional coverage of the VRA.
To be sure, in the short term there will be all kinds of fall out from this USSC ruling that will not be nice, or fair, or even logical. (The court doesn’t always make logical sense.) But if Congress can get its head screwed on straight, (THAT IS A BIG IF) it will realize that all 50 states should be brought under section 4 of the VRA. Then the discrepancies within the law, about which it was sued over, will disappear.
Arizona and Alaska and Alabama will be covered the same as California, North Dakota and Minnesota. All of the country – every American will have the protection of the VRA covering their state’s handling of election on a free and open basis.
There is a lot of discord about the ruling right now, but if all of America can be covered by the new section 4, then all of America will be better for it. And in that way, the law itself will not discriminate, as it does now.
There are moves afoot in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin to subdue voter roles and purge certain elements of society from those roles. Those states ARE NOT covered by the VRA. And that is wrong.
To those who are arguing against the ruling, I understand. Especially with the Citizen United ruling having preceded this one, it seems as if the court is favoring the GOP and big business more than the individual. But in the decision it is pointed out that the law itself violates the equality clause, because it does not treat every state equally. You can’t get around that. Sure the states like Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi would love to railroad blacks and Hispanics out of the voting booth. But the law has to be applied equally to all states. That is in our constitution. It is what the five justices found wrong with the rule of law they acted upon.
They did NOT strike down the Voting Rights Act. They simply said Section 4 had to meet the fair and balanced test of the equality of law that all constitutional questions are put up against.
I am all for the VRA. Always have been. But Congress has to make it stronger and more universal. The court has said so. And whether you like it or not, that is now the law of the land.
So if you want to bitch and moan, do so. But if you want to make a difference, I would suggest you get busy and send people to Washington who can affect just and fair laws for everyone.
On another note:
I witnessed our lawmakers in special session in Austin last night and I can say if this is government of the people and for the people, America is in dangerous shape and equally dangerous hands.
I fear the divisions within our country will grow wider and wider, if underhanded business like the actions of the Texas Senate continue across this land. David Dewhurst is to be held responsible for the chaos, which ensued. That wasn’t leadership, that was despotism.