So like many others who believe in equality, you are busy celebrating today’s landmark Supreme Court rulings:
The Supreme Court has ruled on the two highly anticipated same-sex marriage cases before it, holding that DOMA is unconstitutional, but declining to rule on the merits of California’s Proposition 8 on the grounds that sponsors of the law had no standing to bring the case.
Sometime in between opening yet another bottle of champagne and mentally composing a love letter to the 5 justices on the right side of history, you notice out of the corner of your eye that your dog is walking a little funny. While it would be oh so easy to ignore and return to the celebration, you love your dog and start paying a bit more attention. Soon enough you have all the evidence you need. As great of a decision as the DOMA case may be, as deserving of celebration as it is, the party needs to stop. Your poor pooch has been screwed, fucked as hard as I have fucked this metaphor, by 5 people in black robes.
I do not like to chicken little things. I am cautious about crying wolf. But the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act is a disgrace that is already weakening voting rights hours after being delivered. I have no snark to give on this issue. All I can do is urge you to educate yourself on this issue, and apply pressure to your elected officials to restore some of the needed protections that this ruling erased in a heartbeat.
From the Salon:
The voting rights ruling it issued yesterday, Shelby County v. Holder, is one of the very worst Supreme Court decisions of all time. Leaving aside the practical effects of the Court’s holding, which are likely to be awful (Texas has already won the race for “first state to enact a change to its voting laws that wouldn’t have been approved by the federal government if the Voting Rights Act could still be enforced”), the opinion is a travesty as a matter of basic legal reasoning.
There’s no quibbling over the impact of the Court’s decision today. “What the Supreme Court did was to put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” a visibly shaken Rep. John Lewis told ABC News. “This act helped liberate not just a people but a nation.” The civil rights hero is pessimistic that Congress will be able to agree on new jurisdictions and enforcement measures to put teeth back in the act. “In 2006, we had the ability and capacity to come together in bipartisan fashion to renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Lewis said. “I’m not so sure whether we have the will to do what we must do and should do.”
Now that certain states are no longer bound by the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that they run new voting regulations by the federal government, Republican legislators in those states are jumping at the chance to move forward with voter ID laws.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that the state will now move ahead with a law requiring photo ID before voting, since it no longer has to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice to implement it. “With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” Abbott said in a statement to the Dallas Morning News. “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”
Just two hours after the Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is already advancing a voter ID law and a redistricting map blocked last year for discriminating against black and Latino residents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement declaring that both measures may go into effect immediately, now that there is no law stopping them from discriminating against minorities.
Davis and the Department of Justice used Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — which allows the federal government to review election changes in areas of the country with a history of racial discrimination — to challenge the changes in court. In August of 2012, a panel of federal judges found that “substantial surgery” was done to predominantly black districts, cutting off representatives’ offices from their strongest fundraising bases, and blocked the changes,
“The map-drawers consciously replaced many of the district’s active Hispanic voters with low-turnout Hispanic voters in an effort to strengthen the voting power of [the district’s] Anglo citizens,” the judges wrote and accused Texas officials of trying to decrease the effectiveness of minority voters.
And Rachael Maddow:
Embed code isn’t working for some reason, so here’s the link to the video.