If you were at all surprised by Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision to basically gut the Voting Rights Act, I have just one question for you. Where the hell have you been the last few years?
Seriously, nothing about this horrendous and outlandish decision should surprise anyone. If you thought for even a microsecond that one of the “moderate” justices on the Court would save the day, then you obviously still believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. The only “surprise” here was that it took them an extra week to announce the decision. Other than that, just chalk this up as one giant leap for bigotry and selective judicial activism.
I say selective because when it comes to overturning laws they don’t like, conservatives never have any problem with judicial activism. And let’s get one thing straight: this court has been the most activist in recent memory, even more so than the Warren Court which gave us Brown v. Board of Education.
To sum up the grim news, the Supreme Court struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. That section dealt with the formulas that certain geographical areas of the country needed to get approval before making changes to their voting system. Without the formulas, section 5 – the heart and soul of the whole Act – is nothing more than a paper tiger. The analogy would be like removing speed limit signs without necessarily eliminating the speed limits. Try enforcing a law that nobody can verify. The move was deliberate and cowardly.
I wish I could say that the worst is over. Sadly, I can’t. I think we’re in for one helluva run here. Civil rights, environmental regulations, labor laws. One by one, the achievements of the last five decades will fall like dominoes at the hands of this court. This is just the beginning. In the deepest, darkest corners of this land, a determined group of Neanderthals has been fighting to reclaim the country that was “stolen” from them. They desperately want to return to those good old days when certain people knew their place and kept their mouths shut.
This decision was a huge victory for them. Don’t take my word for it. While reading Politico just a few hours ago, I was appalled by the sheer ignorance of the comments regarding Eric Holder’s statement that the Justice Department would continue to fight against voter discrimination, in spite of the ruling. Nothing infuriates white supremacists more than the image of a black man who won’t back down and say “yes’m.” Obama and Holder have been driving them crazy for more than four years.
There are some who will say the nation has evolved past the point of needing special laws to protect voters’ rights. One look at the voter ID laws that Republicans tried to get away with last year should put that to bed once and for all. We are no more evolved than a fox locked in a hen house.
On a micro level people are far more careful than they were thirty or forty years ago, but catch some of them in places where they let their guard down and, trust me, you will get an education but good. Think Paula Deen is an aberration? Think again. Down in the South, she’s in good company. Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia are like gods to these people.
That’s why this ruling is such a national tragedy. The reason we haven’t seen egregious abuses in voting over the last fifty years is because there were legal consequences for any state or municipality that attempted it. Those consequences just went out the window. If you thought those voter ID laws were bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
If the left ever needed a wake up and smell the caffeine moment, this is it. Thanks to the ballot box, Republicans have been stymied at both the executive and legislative branches. The Supreme Court remains, as Michael Tomasky adroitly observed, “the hard right’s last remaining instrument in this country.”
The party that wins the next couple of elections will get to decide the composition of that court. And with several justices well into their 70s, the next president will likely get to nominate two or more of them. If that president is a Democrat we have a fighting chance; if not, it’s game, set and match.