Not the death of the Voting Rights Act

Somebody on was just talking about the “historic” nature of the decision on the Voting Rights Act. The headline on HuffPo says “Supremes Gut Voting Rights Act.” As usual, it’s reasonable to assume that the noise will drown out the truth.

I find it personally distasteful that I should find myself not automatically retching at the thought of acquiescing to a decision favored by Justices Thomas and Alito. Yet nobody is apart from politics; everyone on the court knows the huge symbolism of every major decision. If I were on the court, I’d probably have sided with Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer. 

The central point was whether Congress had the right to use a list that was drawn up in the 1960s to require specially designated Southern voting districts to submit to Congress any changes in voting registration requirements. Few would argue that the South has changed a lot, as has the rest of the country; but anyone who thinks the South doesn’t still need Reconstruction hasn’t looked at Mississippi. Congress, however, abdicated its responsibility to keep watch over those historically racist voting districts, so it allowed the list to become moribund. It was only a matter of time before some smarmy Southern lawyers saw a golden opportunity, and they happily jumped on it, and won. 

So now, despite the fact that we can easily deduce continuing racial discrimination in voting, Congress is to redraw the list. Not likely, not at all likely. But perhaps they should look beyond the South, because racism is so widespread and so easily expressed in elections. Should we not include Ohio on a list of racist states, when we have proof that white voting districts had a surplus of voting machines, allowing voters to walk in, cast a ballot, and walk away, while many predominately black voting districts had so few machines that people waited in lines for up to eight hours to cast their ballots?

Don’t tell me about the South and its continued racism. Let’s instead aim a new Voting Rights Act at those districts that pull such shenanigans as outline immediately above.


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