Posted by: Donna
In case you missed it, the Supreme Court heard arguments on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act today. That section requires certain jurisdictions to have changes to their election laws pre-cleared by the US Department of Justice, on account of how said jurisdictions have demonstrated a history of passing laws that deny certain citizens their right to vote.
The case for making certain jurisdictions have their voting laws scrutinized by the Federal government is best made here:
Congress had found that case-by-case litigation was inadequate to combat wide-spread and persistent discrimination in voting, because of the inordinate amount of time and energy required to overcome the obstructionist tactics invariably encountered in these lawsuits. After enduring nearly a century of systematic resistance to the Fifteenth Amendment, Congress might well decide to shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of the evil to its victims.
In other words, people who are eligible to vote should be able to do so, and they shouldn’t have to wait until after they’ve been denied that right to try (in vain usually) to overturn the law that denied their rights. And that is the whole point of overturning Section 5 to the people who think certain other people are unworthy of voting.
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.
Oh, so there’s an example of that “legislating from the bench” we’ve been warned about. Scalia’s use of the word “entitlement” reads as deliberate – a conflation of voting with “handouts” like food stamps and Medicaid. Scalia moved beyond the standard right wing complaint that working class people, minorities, and women are voting themselves goodies. He declared voting itself to be an unearned handout. Charles Pierce of the Esquire Politics blog called it “language that guarantees he will never have to pay for a drink at a Federalist Society function again in his life”
Speaking of legislating: Efforts to restrict voting in Arizona, which happens to be one of the jurisdictions covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act on account of this state’s history with voter suppression, are well underway this year.
The bill would impose a Class 5 felony on anyone who returns another voter’s ballot who is not a family member or lives in the same household as the voter. A Class 5 is punishable by probation to 2/1 years in prison.
Provine, like others opposed to the bill, said the key is better voter education.
But Republican lawmakers noted that voters have a responsibility to educate themselves.
Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, eyed copies of the 4,000 ballots that Parraz said his group dropped off at the polls last November and said it confirmed for her the need to tighten voting rules.
Seeing the box of ballots, she said, “I know voter fraud is real.”
That accusation is absurd and utterly devoid of evidence. Idiotic urban legends aside, no one has any proof that widespread voter fraud is happening anywhere. It’s a manufactured excuse to disenfranchise undesirable voters in an assault on democracy. And there’s a Supreme Court justice calling voting a “racial entitlement” when certain people are doing it.
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I have no tolerance for the “both sides are guilty” false equivalence. It’s not only untrue, since Republicans are causing most the problems in politics today, but it treats every dispute as if it’s reasonable people disagreeing over marginal tax rates or a zoning ordinance. But some disputes aren’t like that. They won’t be solved through calmly discussing it, followed by collaboration and compromise. Sometimes the positions are fundamentally irreconcilable and people’s basic human and civil rights are at stake. At those times you have to pick a side. In this case, one side wants people to vote and the other side doesn’t. Which side are you on?
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