Sign-carrying young blacks sing and chant as they stage a demonstration at the courthouse in Selma, Alabama, Feb. 5, 1965 protesting voter registration. More than 400 of them were arrested and marched off to a compound. (AP Photo/Bill Hudson)
Polling irregularities, legislation clearly drafted to suppress minority voter turnout and all other aspects of voter discrimination are all a thing of the past. At least that seems to be the majority thinking of The U.S. Supreme Court.
Essentially, The Court’s 5-4 ruling on Section 4 of the Voter Rights Act says this: Racism has been eliminated, so we will take the reins off of these places with prior separatist, racist and unfair voting histories and let them change the voting laws without our permission.That is like saying let the fox in the henhouse, since he hasn’t eaten any hens in a few days.
Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was enacted and used to determine which jurisdictions in the country must receive federal permission to change election laws. Those jurisdictions were required to get federal permission before election changes were made because of their history of disenfranchising minority voters. The changes can include redrawing district lines and choosing polling places, among other things.
(Do you remember those 5-hour lines in the last Presidential election?)
The lawsuit, filed by Shelby County, Ala., a county only 10 miles from my house and office and one of the counties I frequently practice law in, states that the atmosphere of racial equality has come a long way and the law is outdated.
They are wrong.
Shelby County is perhaps one of the most racially and politically divided counties in Alabama. If you want to run for a seat in Shelby County, you must be a Republican. For example, in the 2008 election, 76.8% of Shelby County voters voted Republican while 22.8% voted Democrat. In 2010, a Republican held every office where jurisdiction or residency was Shelby County. During oral arguments, Justice Sonya Sotomayor said that Shelby County failed preclearance some 240 times.
But the impact of this ruling will extend well beyond Alabama. It already has. Immediately after The Court’s ruling, The Huffington Post reported that Texas will “enact a voter ID law that a panel of federal judges ruled last year would impose strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.”
More such enactments are sure to follow.
With today’s climate of extensive voter requirements, disenfranchisement of voters, unfair redistricting, disparities in voting locations, as well as extensive discriminatory practices, this is a snowball problem happening before our eyes.
The Supreme Court has failed this country and every person who was water-hosed, beaten, jailed and discriminated against while fighting for voting rights. This is a step back 100 years for the voting rights of minorities