February 23, 2013 by David K. Sutton
Voting Rights Act To Face Supreme Court
The 1965 Voting Rights Act will go before the Supreme Court this week. “Over a century after the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act,” said Chris Hayes on “Up” this morning. “Which finally ended decades of routine exclusion of people of color from exercising their right to vote.” Section 5 of the act, which requires Federal scrutiny on voting law changes in southern states, is the specific language being challenged. The argument against Section 5 is that it diminishes the sovereignty of southern states and that the south has changed since the era of Jim Crow.
But has the south really changed that much?
Sure, overt racism is diminished, but does that mean racism no longer has a dominant influence over southern politics? “I think that racism has taken a different face,” said Bishop Harry Jones on Up with Chris Hayes. “In the earlier days it was just blatant…they didn’t hide it. But now it’s kind of concealed, it travels in a different vehicle now…I’ve lived in Alabama all my life, and I’m kind of a bloodhound when it comes down to racism. I can sniff it out.”
The issue is that racism in 2013 looks much different than Jim Crow-era racism, but it’s affects are the same — discrimination against minorities to limit minority influence over society and especially politics. Racism in 2013 takes on a surreptitious role in the American political process. But it’s there, just under the surface.
My view is, not only should Section 5 be upheld, it needs to extend to all 50 states in the union. That solves the problem of southern states being isolated, even if they deserve that exclusion, and it extends to northern states that have displayed conniving resolve, by Republicans that is, to suppress the minority vote with limited voting hours and discriminatory voter ID laws. But the Supreme Court can’t write legislation, it can only strike it down. And because Section 5 puts extra scrutiny on a minority of states, the irony is that the Supreme Court may decide the rights of millions of minorities will take a backseat to the rights of a handful of minority states.