Patterico's Pontifications

6/22/2009

Supreme Court Decides Voting Rights Act Case

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Judiciary — DRJ @ 9:48 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

With Justice Thomas dissenting, the Supreme Court decided today a Texas case that could have eliminated the preclearance requirement under the Voting Rights Act. Instead, the Court narrowly ruled that a Texas municipal water district may be eligible to avoid preclearance under a bailout provision:

“The court, with only one justice in dissent, avoided the major questions raised over the federal government’s most powerful tool to prevent discriminatory voting changes since the mid-1960s.

The law requires all or parts of 16 states, mainly in the South, with a history of discrimination in voting to get approval in advance of making changes in the way elections are conducted.

The court said that the Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 in Austin, Texas, can apply to opt out of the advance approval requirement, reversing a lower federal court that found it could not. The district would appear to meet the requirements to bail out, although the court did not pass judgment today on that point.”

I blogged on this case earlier here and (tangentially) here.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently described this case as “perhaps the most important case of the term,” while one of the NAACP lawyers who opposed eliminating the preclearance requirement said, “The fact is, the case was filed to tear the heart out of the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act and that effort failed today.”

Is it fair to say the residents of these 16 states remain second-class citizens? It feels like it.

UPDATE 6/24/2009: Here’s an excellent Texas Observer article written in May 2009 after oral arguments that provides an overview of this case and its issues. The author also foretold the eventual decision to let MUD use the bailout provision, describing that result as the “best-case scenario for supporters of the act.”

— DRJ

74 Responses to “Supreme Court Decides Voting Rights Act Case”

  1. “Is it fair to say the residents of these 16 states remain second-class citizens? It feels like it.”

    Or maybe the rest of us are second class.

    francis (3a110b)

  2. francis,

    There are 2 groups of people here. One group consists of Americans who have to ask the government for permission to make election changes, and the second group is Americans who don’t have to ask permission. Under what theory can you imagine that Americans who don’t have to ask permission are second class?

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  3. DRJ – This is unfortunate.

    francis is beginning to act like alphie.

    JD (355e34)

  4. “Under what theory can you imagine that Americans who don’t have to ask permission are second class?”

    I see one group that has more protection than another. I guess it goes to show we view the point of voting rights differently.

    francis (3a110b)

  5. Do you think everyone should have to operate under the same set of rules, francis?

    JD (355e34)

  6. It is always nice when the government protects me. Under Obama I feel as if my entire existence is becoming positively womblike. Now if only Michigan had the protection of the federal government to keep its citizens from making any changes to voting proceedures, polling place locations, balloting methods… I could rest peacefully at night, knowing that the next election of my rulers was in good hands.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  7. You have to wonder if the results for the 2012 Presidential Election will be announced by the government before, or after, the polls close?
    I suppose it will depend on how much money we “give” to ACORN for GOTV!

    AD - RtR/OS! (7cda43)

  8. DRJ: I think it’s fair to say that, as of the time of the voting rights act’s passage, the residents of the covered states had earned their second-class status.

    That said, there’s a legitimate question about how long the sin’s of one’s ancestors should continue to haunt one. Even so, it’s a touchy question, and I think the political calculus is such that the modern citizens of the states with a history of discrimination are presumed guilty until they are proven innocent … because nobody is willing to take the political risk of presuming innocence and having it turn out that the presumption was wrong.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  9. francis:

    I see one group that has more protection than another. I guess it goes to show we view the point of voting rights differently.

    I agree we see things differently, but I think our differences focus on how much we’re willing to let government decide how people live their lives.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  10. aphrael,

    I think you’re wrong about that. Sure, the election rights problems in the south’s past merit voting right protection, but why just those election problems?

    The rest of the country had plenty of issues too… and more to the point, the rest of the country has plenty of issues now. Really, anyone concerned with fair elections should be worried about Cook Country, Acorn, and Black Panthers. They should not be worried about Georgia asking for IDs… or at least, if they are that paranoid about voter intimidation, they should be far more concerned about the more pressing concerns in urban Democratic strongholds with lots of ‘community organizers’.

    Juan (c34e61)

  11. Juan: I think you are conflating two different strands of what I was saying; if I’m right, it’s my fault for failing to communicate.

    My first claim: at the time the voting rights act was passed, the citizens of the southern states had demonstrated that they could not be trusted to abide by the requirements of the fifteenth amendment, and that federal intervention was necessary to secure compliance with the Constitution.

    My second claim: today, more than forty years later, most of the people who had demonstrated they could not be trusted have died, the culture has changed, an entirely new population has arisen. It’s not fair to judge today’s people by the sins of their fathers and grandfathers. But we continue to do so, presuming that the people of the south are guilty until they prove themselves innocent, for political reasons: because nobody is willing to pay the price of presuming innocence if the people of the south then turn out to be guilty.

    Please note that I am not claiming that the people of the south, given freedom today to run their elections as they see fit, would repeat the sins the people of the south committed in the first half of the twentieth century. I doubt they would, but – for all that I am technically a native Texan – do not have the experience to judge.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  12. It’s funny that I can tell that Aphrael responded and the comment was delayed for some reason.

    Anyway, my point is pretty basic. You can’t earn second class status. OJ Simpson is not being treated like a second class citizen, he’s being treated like a criminal the same as any citizen would be after conviction.

    Why is Georgia and Texas, places with fair elections, treated worse than places with unfair elections and rampant and obvious and persistent fraud and intimidation? Why are all the counties with more votes than voters always blue?

    I guess this could be a Head and Shoulder’s thing ‘but you don’t have dandruff!’

    I think not. That those black panthers are free says it all.

    Juan (c34e61)

  13. aphrael, it’s not important whether you were clear or not.

    I just think that, 40 years ago, the protections put in place should have been universal. These crooked counties today that aren’t covered by these laws were pretty crooked 40 years ago.

    This law is like making it illegal to lynch someone, but only if you’re related to Al Gore Sr. That’s silly. just make lynching and election rigging illegal for all states.

    Juan (c34e61)

  14. The way I hear it (See SCOTUSBlog “Analysis: Supreme Court Invalidates Section 5’s Coverage Scheme” and “Analysis: Is Section 5’s future shaky?“) the Court balked at a 5-4 ruling striking down Section 5, and opted for judicial restraint, deferring to Congress to fix its own mess.

    The opinion serves notice on Congress that if Section 5 stands as currently written, it will be struck down the next time the Court sees it.

    Probably the most obvious thing that needs to change is the part about opting out. Currently, the data that the law mandates for testing an opt-out appeal are from 1972, which makes them meaningless for all and inapplicable to many.

    The data requirement should have been moved forward when the law was last renewed (2006), but that would have pretty much gutted Section 5’s “usefulness.” Hard to get all riled up about Georgia’s voting discrimination in 2004, for example.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  15. Juan, I think you misunderstand the voting rights act’s intent.

    The point was to deal with a particular kind of interference with voting rights: interference on the basis of race.

    Corrupt ballot-stuffing election-stealing wasn’t the issue it was trying to resolve.

    You have a fair point that perhaps the federal government should be involved in overseeing local elections to prevent corrupt ballot-stuffing election-stealing … but that’s not what Congress was trying to do.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  16. DRJ,

    As a second class Patterico reader, you have my sympathies.

    [This is too funny to ban. Thanks for the laugh, poon. — DRJ]

    poon (bc36de)

  17. ” I agree we see things differently, but I think our differences focus on how much we’re willing to let government decide how people live their lives.”

    That’s some nice rhetoric. Specially for a situation where two governments are arguing with each other.

    francis (ae41b0)

  18. francis:

    That’s some nice rhetoric. Specially for a situation where two governments are arguing with each other.

    Thank you for pointing out that I need to clarify my concern. I object to federal government overseeing so much of how local citizens and governments run their lives.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  19. One of the problems endemic in most “civil-rights” legislation, is that groups are penalized when individuals have had their rights violated.
    Instead of making the individual whole, we just penalize a group – that seems to make a mockery of the entire “equal protection” thing doesn’t it?
    If the Voting Rights Law is to be applied to anybody, it should be applied to everybody.
    Either all in, or all out.

    AD - RtR/OS! (7cda43)

  20. “Thank you for pointing out that I need to clarify my point. I object to federal government overseeing so much of how local citizens and governments run their lives.”

    Yeah over the past hundred or so years they could at times get heavy handed on matters of race.

    francis (ae41b0)

  21. Evidently, francis does not have any comments that relate to the actual topic.

    SPQR (72771e)

  22. francis,

    The Puritans were pretty overbearing so we should add New England to the list, don’t you think?

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  23. Oh I was being sympathetic with you.

    francis (ae41b0)

  24. If there’s one place in Texas that doesn’t need the Voting Rights Act, it’s the Austin area. This shows what a joke the Act is in practice and scope.

    maxpower (1375fb)

  25. francis,

    I’m sorry if I misunderstood. I thought you meant the local citizens have been heavy-handed about race. Were you referring to the federal government instead?

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  26. DRJ – francis was noting that Southerners are RACISTS !!!!

    JD (f4934f)

  27. “My first claim: at the time the voting rights act was passed, the citizens of the southern states had demonstrated that they could not be trusted to abide by the requirements of the fifteenth amendment, and that federal intervention was necessary to secure compliance with the Constitution.”

    My claim is is that it was the Democrat Party that refused to abide by the 15th amendment back in the days when they ran the South with an iron hand, and now we have the absurd situation of having a national government run by the Democrat Party trying to enforce the amendment they refused to abide by, against the now Republican controlled southern states!!!

    It’s like trusting the Nazi Party to enforce laws forbidding anti-semitism, and then doing it only in areas politically controlled by Jews.

    You basically couldn’t nake this stuff up.

    America is one big giant loony-bin.

    Dave Surls (5cc12c)

  28. “Were you referring to the federal government instead?”

    Yeah they’ve been kind of heavy handed with how the locals run some race issues. At times.

    “My claim is is that it was the Democrat Party that refused to abide by the 15th amendment back in the days when they ran the South with an iron hand, and now we have the absurd situation of having a national government run by the Democrat Party trying to enforce the amendment they refused to abide by, against the now Republican controlled southern states!!!”

    Delicious no? That we can connect a black president to the jim crow south.

    francis (ae41b0)

  29. JD, it’s not just the South; portions of California have to obtain preclearance because of historic discrimination against hispanics.

    Dave Surls, at #27: I’m not really quite sure what you are saying. Are you saying that this is a partisan issue, and that Democrats support the voting rights act because they want to stick it to Republicans? I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment; I think those non-southerners who support the continuation of the voting rights act do so because they don’t trust the South to continue allowing black people to vote if the voting rights act is allowed to expire.

    This is unfair; it is judging the people of today by the sins of their forefathers. But it’s also a very real public relations problem which the south continues to have: by and large, people in the northeast and in California do not believe that the South has changed.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  30. Then that is a problem for the bigots in the NE and Cali, aphrael, not for the South.

    JD (f4934f)

  31. It’s “Cursed Land” concept law. You live in these 16 states, you are presumed racist by the Feds unless proven otherwise.

    I can organize a poll location shift in Smyrna, GA and have to jump through all the hoops which doesn’t guarantee success, but if I decided to move to Muncie, IN, and do something similar, I’m in the clear, not standing on cursed land.

    Techie (482700)

  32. JD: I hear what you’re saying, but my question back to you is: given that we know that the citizens of certain states prevented racial minorities from voting, in violation of the Constitution, for more than two generations, shouldn’t the burden of proof lie with them, rather than with those who distrust them?

    If a pattern of repeated behavior over more than sixty years isn’t enough to shift the burden of proof, what is?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  33. No. If some Democrats did something 2 generations ago, it has nothing to do with those living there today. I would say that absent evidence of current problems, our government should not presume racism on behalf of those that have not acted in such a manner. Call me crazy 😉

    JD (f4934f)

  34. JD: note that I think you need to distinguish two things:

    (a) was it reasonable, in 1965, to say that the states which had historically deprived minorities of their right to vote had lost the benefit of the doubt?

    (b) is it reasonable today to say that those states should still no longer have the benefit of the doubt?

    I’m asserting that the answer to (a) is yes.

    Idealistically speaking, the answer to (b) is no. But it’s not as if there is no foundation for the distrust that many feel towards the citizens of the formerly discriminating states — that distrust was earned by the behavior of the citizens of those states over an extended period of time.

    That said, “when are we cleansed of original sin” is a good question; at some point the rest of the country has to be willing to see our fellow men for who they are today, not who their parents were a generation and a half ago.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  35. Sure, in ’65 it was warranted. I do not think it is today, and I would argue is antithetical to our system, where indviduals are treated as individuals, and not blamed for the actions of a group of people generations ago. It is disgusting that not only we do that today, but that Holder argues in favor of it. Are you responsible for the actions of your great-great grandparents?

    I tire of the bigoted redneck Southerner which appears to be one of the only accetable manner of bigotry remaining. If people want to view them that way still, then that is on them, not the South.

    JD (336b12)

  36. OK, so then the questions become:

    (a) if it was warranted in 1965, when did it stop being warranted?

    (b) how do we know when it is no longer warranted? since the federal action prevents the states/localities from discriminating, how do we know if the absence of discrimination is the result of the federal action or the result of a change in state mores?

    I’m not a fan of bigotry against southerners; while I admit to being guilty of it from time to time, it’s something I consider a failing in myself, and it’s something I work against.

    And in this particular case, I can’t help but think: the original law was enacted in reaction to the behavior of the citizens. Their liberty was curtailed, but their liberty was curtailed because they kept breaking the law. I’m sympathetic to the claims of their descendants that the sins of the past should not be visited upon them; but at the same time, I think it’s clearly true that the states earned the treatment they have received. (I would, of course, include my own state – California – in that; the parts of California which are subject to the preclearance provisions earned it).

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  37. Aphrael – that distrust was earned by the behavior of the citizens of those states over an extended period of time.

    Then you should go dig up those citizens, quiz them, and then determine whether they’ve progressed.

    You may be right, however, since people like this would most likely try to keep down the black voting populace so as to enable the ‘man’ to continue his racist juggernaut.

    This ‘solution’ acts as a panacea that absolves the governments, both Federal and State, from having to deal with the actual details of securing a fair and accurate electoral process. It is the ultimate distraction from the implementation of a system that can’t be rigged or gamed, and our elected officials want gerrymandering and hanging chads. They like stolen elections and confounded voters, as long as incumbents have the upper hand. Elections run county to county, and precinct to precinct, not as some blanket statewide system. Fraud occurs at finite locations, not in an ‘area’.

    The last group of people that the US citizenry can trust with election rules is the elected officials.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  38. We do not penalize people for the actions of others. Especially decades after the fact. That should not sit well with anyone. This just seems absurd on its face.

    JD (336b12)

  39. It’s just too bad that we don’t have Sandra Day O’Connor on the court to give us a Solomonesque pronouncement that the Voting Rights Act should be revisited again in 14 years and 3 months, or whatever.

    JVW (2cd0a9)

  40. Aphrael – because they kept breaking the law.

    I’m sorry. Which they? The Gays? The Blacks? The Jehovah’s Witnesses? The Fuller Brush Salesmen?

    Groups don’t break the law, Aphrael, individuals do, and a failure to prosecute individuals that is covered up by a blanket punishment of an abstract ‘they’ is far more problematic than I think you’re letting on. It’s problematic because it lets the government out of its responsibility to ensure fair elections.

    I concur with JD – we do not penalize people for the actions of others…

    Especially
    when we can’t even identify the ‘others’ whose actions were illegal.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  41. Hmmm.

    “..but their liberty was curtailed because they kept breaking the law…”

    That sounds good. How about applying it to Chicago politics? I mean, if things were bad in 1965 with regard to the rights of voters…have they improved since?

    Or shall we consider it in the current discussion regarding ACORN?

    If not, why not?

    Eric Blair (0b61b2)

  42. I would like to note that it is positively refreshing to have an actual discussion with someone that I disagree with.

    JD (336b12)

  43. Which they?

    The overwhelming majority of people involved in implementing voting systems in the southern states between, say, 1890 and 1964, including but not limited to legislators, county clerks, state elections department officials, etc.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  44. Apogee, I think you have identified the basic difference in world view between the Right and the Left. The Left seems quite concerned with group identification. Prosecuting a group would seem antithetical to basic freedoms. Prosecute the people involved seems like a better solution.

    But it is easier to prosecute a group, perhaps. You don’t have to worry about differences between people.

    Oh well.

    Eric Blair (0b61b2)

  45. The last group of people that the US citizenry can trust with election rules is the elected officials.

    Whom would you entrust them to, then?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  46. JD, again: at what point did something which was clearly warranted (in 1965) cease to be warranted? 1972? 1978? 1989?

    And what was the evidence that one could have used at that time, whenever it was, to come to that conclusion?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  47. while one of the NAACP lawyers who opposed eliminating the preclearance requirement said,

    I’m reading The Case Against Lawyers, a book written several years ago by Catherine Crier, and all I can say is the rampant idiocy of a combination of foolish, manipulative lawyers, judges and juries (and legislators) makes me more disgusted than ever before towards both them and the political trends dating back at least 40 years that have played into the hands of the irresponsible and the logic-deprived. In effect, our society has countless layers of people, from all walks of life, who either endorse or exhibit the mentality of the most greedy and power-hungry ambulance-chasing lawyer imaginable.

    Mark (411533)

  48. Aphrael – I am not sure that could ever be objectively quantified. I guess it is like porn, I know it when I see it.

    JD (336b12)

  49. aphrael,

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the fact that people move so much today, many of the people in these 16 states may be the first or second generation of their family living there. How does that factor in?

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  50. aphrael,

    I’d put the date at either 1985 or 2005, one or two generations after the VRA went into effect. That’s when I would have shifted the burden to the government to show racist intent or effect.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  51. aphrael, your question reminds me of Sandra Day O’Connor’s thoughts on affirmative action in Michigan. I forget how many years she punted the decision for, something like 25 or 30.

    carlitos (84409d)

  52. Ooh, good point about people moving around. If I were really cynical, I would ask how collective punishment is good for Atlanta, but bad for Gaza…

    carlitos (84409d)

  53. Being someone who was alive and aware in 1965, I defy anyone to say that things have not changed drastically.

    In 1965, black folk did not associate socially with whites. Did not happen, unless your name was Sidney Poitier or you played baseball.

    Schools in California were segregated, as were civic organizations like the Boy’s Club. Not necessarily by law or rule but, you know, it just worked out that way. I witnessed both in Pasadena in the early 60’s.

    California passed an initiative allowing housing segregation in 1964.

    The CC&Rs for my Homeowner’s Association (written in the 1950’s) had a racial and religious covenant limiting occupancy to Caucasian Christians, although there was a loophole for the help.

    That was then.

    Nowadays, only the lack of non-whites at a social event is noticeable. People would talk.

    Schools are still segregated, but that’s because the LA schools are crap and anyone who can gets their kids out. And it is the Democrats who keep the schools crap and deny the poor the vouchers they’d need to get access to private schools. It reminds me nothing so much as the Reservation system for Native Americans, where nothing was left for the Indians once the handlers were done.

    I’m pretty sure that one can be hit with a sizable judgment (and/or fine) for discrimination in housing. The charge is pretty damning to future business, too. Not a lot of Sambos restaurants around here any more.

    And at huge cost, my HOA removed the embarrassing covenants from the CC&Rs in in the late 90’s. You would think that this would be done for free by some government agency, but sadly, no.

    Thirty years ago, the white-majority city of Los Angeles elected an African-American mayor, and then re-elected him 3 times. The current mayor is Hispanic.

    Oh, and yes, the racists elected Barack Obama president. Including the racists in the Confederate states of Florida, Virginia and North Carolina

    THINGS HAVE CHANGED.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  54. But I guess there’s a racist gene that you get if you are born in Dixie, and that you acquire by some Lamarkian process if you stay there too long.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  55. Aphrael – Sorry about not answering sooner – I’m having trouble updating my page.

    Whom would I entrust the electoral process to? Nobody.
    No one group should operate the levers of power behind the election of our representatives. I would say that complete transparency in the electoral process is the only option to ensure free and fair elections, and that transparency can only be achieved when the process is available to all. The specifics to achieve that should be part of another Post, but, no, ‘government officials’ or ‘community organizers’ are not to be entrusted with the electoral process. You doubt me? Talk to Minnesotans.

    You write of ‘they’ as:
    The overwhelming majority of people involved in implementing voting systems in the southern states between, say, 1890 and 1964, including but not limited to legislators, county clerks, state elections department officials, etc.

    But, of course, even though we know this bit of information (what ever it is), it would be impossible to punish the overwhelming majority of people involved.

    No, the government must punish all the people in that region. Why? Because the reasoning at the time would have been that it would have been impossible to identify the specific actors involved in the violations.

    But you can see the logical error in that reasoning. Without specifics, your request for an endpoint in the violations becomes impossible, due to the lack of existence of factual data to begin with. Since there is no actual starting point, it becomes impossible to delineate either an increase or decrease in the undesired behavior. You asked JD what the end point would be, and so I ask you: When you base your regulations on such sloppy data as ‘overwhelming majorities’, at what data point do the regulations become inappropriate? And how could you measure such a data point, when you couldn’t measure one initially.

    All this leads me back to my initial statement, one that has been avoided.

    The failure to identify specifics regarding the suppression of fair and accurate electoral procedures has allowed both the State and Federal governments to escape the implementation of a universally trusted election system. This rule benefits the government, not the voters, and it affects the very framework by which our republic transfers the reins of representation because it gives a false sense that the government is ‘ensuring’ a fair and accurate outcome in these states.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  56. Apogee:

    I’m having trouble updating my page.

    I’ve been having the same problem. I’m sure it’s due to the WordPress Super Cache. Sometimes it resolves when the cache is cleaned, but usually I have to close my browser completely and then reopen it. A few times I’ve had to restart my computer.

    Heh. Look at the lengths some people go to read Patterico.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  57. Look at the lengths some people go to read Patterico.

    Look, if you need to talk to someone about this, just ask Mr. P for my phone number. You’re not alone.

    Hi, my name is Apogee, and I read Patterico’s Pontifications.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  58. Do you think we need 12 steps or can we get by with 10?

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  59. I use Firefox, and to get a quicker refresh, I open the page with Explorer. And it comes refreshed. Something on the server is limiting rebuilds to “new” connections and otherwise rations them.

    Once the page is rebuilt, though, it should be viewable by anyone. Which might suggest a strategy, but I’m sure the throttling is for a reason, so maybe it’s not a good idea.

    Never mind.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  60. DRJ–

    In my experience drunks usually try to get by with only 3: I’m a drunk, I’m sorry, and let me help you. (1, 9 & 12).

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  61. Do you think we need 12 steps or can we get by with 10?

    Don’t BS me – you’re a Texan. You only need the 2 step.

    Apogee (e2dc9b)

  62. Heh. I like both the two-step and three-step approaches.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  63. 2 steps should do the trick. It took me about 48 steps with some other things …

    JD (336b12)

  64. “Dave Surls, at #27: I’m not really quite sure what you are saying.”

    I’m saying that it’s absurd to trust members of the Democratic Party to see that the 15th Amendment is enforced, when for generations it was members of the Democratic Party that made sure that it wasn’t.

    I’m saying that it’s absurd to make certain parts of the country follow special rules to make sure that the local political party isn’t rigging elections or depriving people of the opportunity to vote when those areas are under the control of the politcal party that DOESN’T have a long history of institutionalized racism or cheating in elections.

    If we’re going to have those kind of rules then we ought to apply them to places controlled by the Democrats, and we shouldn’t have Democrats enforcing the rules. They’ve proven over and over again that they can’t be trusted.

    It’s not the people in Alabama that can’t be trusted, it’s the people in the Democratic Party that can’t be trusted.

    Dave Surls (28518b)

  65. DRJ, at 49: my first response is to say, it makes things more difficult and complicated; clearly the people who moved were not complicit in the sins of the past. On the other hand, there’s a degree to which they’re like people who move in next to airports and then complain about them: they knew (or should have known) about the restriction at the time they moved, so to some degree we should be entitled to assume that they assented to it.

    DRJ, at 50: would your concerns have been satisfied if, at the last reauthorization, they had jumped the look back date so that instead of holding jurisdictions responsible for discrimination in the ten years before 1972, it had held them responsible for the ten or 15 years before the reauthorization?

    Kevin, at 53: of course things have changed. But that’s not the question: the question which I don’t think anyone can answer is what standards can we use to measure the change? Is “I know it when I see it” good enough?

    Apogee, at 55: no worries about the slow response; not only am I having the same trouble updating my page, but you ran right up against my travel hour. :) I can’t respond now, but don’t want to leave you hanging; I’ll get back to this conversation later tonight or tomorrow. :)

    aphrael (4163e2)

  66. aphrael,

    My two-generation approach is probably more pragmatic than legal. If you can’t solve racism with two generations of judicial oversight, it’s time to try a different approach.

    DRJ (cdbef5)

  67. aphrael – It could not be measured nor quantified when it was happening, so it seems like one of those impossible standards to apply some quanitifiable metric to how the undefinable is no longer happening.

    JD (f2604b)

  68. aphrael, while you’re clearly right that the kind of election crimes we see today aren’t really relevant to a law helping blacks vote, my basic point was simply that there was never any reason to limit the application of this law to a few states. Either it should apply to all the states or it shouldn’t. That we’ve seen this law last when more relevant voting problems are ignored is just my argument for why this law is clearly not meant to do what it’s claimed to do.

    But anyway, either it’s a good law and should apply nationwide, or it isn’t and should be abolished. The idea that it should only apply to states that are considered historically racist is stupid.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  69. The original solution to the problem was to prosecute those individuals who were depriving others of their rights through their official actions.
    To deprive an entire class or group of people who had no control of the system for the actions of a small minority who were in control of the system, and who could be identified, is wrong, and is antithetical to the meaning of civil-rights.

    AD - RtR/OS! (7cda43)

  70. “I’m saying that it’s absurd to trust members of the Democratic Party to see that the 15th Amendment is enforced, when for generations it was members of the Democratic Party that made sure that it wasn’t.”

    100 years after slavery, when lots of the people involved were dead, we still had work to do on civil rights.

    imdw (b4c7d5)

  71. The court was doing what you conservatives want it to do, to interpret law, not write it. You also might note that Souter dissented with Thomas.

    Quit whining when something doesn’t go the way you want to. You’re as bad as the damn liberals…

    JEA (9f9fc9)

  72. Is it fair to say the residents of these 16 states remain second-class citizens? It feels like it.

    Yeah, if pre-clearance was tough to get, then sure thing.

    Otherwise, DRJ, you lost this fight in the 2005 Congress, when it was re-authorized in a Republican Congress. There was NO reason for the Court to overturn Congress legislation and forty years of precedent.

    Talk about activism? Look at Thomas and his “I don’t care what Congress said, I make the decisions around here”!

    timb (ff5de4)

  73. I like JEA’s STFU you whiny b*stards standard for viewing politics.

    JD (0f9c01)

  74. timb,

    It’s my understanding that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was designed to expire in 1970. Although the voting protections of the Fifteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act are permanent, Section 5 has been reauthorized 4 times so now Section 5 remains in effect through 2031. IMO, it’s reasonable to ask the Supreme Court whether such lengthy extensions of an originally valid provision could result in an invalid or unconstitutional effect. Thus, while legislation should be granted deference, it should not be a basis to foreclose any judicial review.

    DRJ (cdbef5)


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