“[T]he Voting Rights Act has continued to be an important legislative tool to ensure that most precious of rights, which is preservative of all other rights. There was never any dispute about that basic proposition.”—Judge John Roberts, during his confirmation hearings to be Chief Justice
As the case decisions have come this week, it has been apparent, as Richard Hasen, writing yesterday in the New York Times says, that the Supreme Court or that is its leader, John Roberts, has a “long game”. Hasen speaks of Roberts’ activist designs on eroding what he considers the overreach of earlier courts and Congress itself:
“In the Shelby decision, we see a somewhat more open version of a pattern that is characteristic of the Roberts court, in which the conservative justices tee up major constitutional issues for dramatic reversal. First the court wrecked campaign finance law in Citizens United. On Tuesday it took away a crown jewel of the civil rights movement. And as we saw in Monday’s Fisher case, affirmative action is next in line, even if the court wants to wait another year or two to pull the trigger. Imagine striking down affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act in the same week!”On Tuesday, things got clearer about just how out of step with basic morality the Supreme Court really is.
It got so bad, that new leftist force, Justice Antonin Scalia, sided once again with the Court’s liberal justices in dissenting from the majority opinion, in the case properly entitled “Adoptive [White] Couple versus Baby Girl”, taking away a Cherokee child from her father, and handing the child over to a white couple.
Yep, they’re still practicing legal genocide in 2013 USA.
The Court, faced with the fact that there is actually a law in place, the ICWA, to protect indians from having their children stolen in this manner, ignored the law and claimed it had no relevance in this case because the father of the child had initially surrendered his parental right to the mother. The father, upon learning the mother intended to sell her child to white people, intervened to say he had changed his mind and wanted to take care of the child. The girl has been with her father for the last year and a half. The Court recognized he was a caring parent.
Then SCOTUS ruled the man’s biological daughter could be taken from him, so that the business contract between the white couple and the mother would not be violated.
As Justice Scalia said in his dissent:
“The Court’s opinion, it seems to me, needlessly demeans the rights of parenthood. It has been the constant practice of the common law to respect the entitlement of those who bring a child into the world to raise that child. We do not inquire whether leaving a child with his parents is “in the best interest of the child.” It sometimes is not; he would be better off raised by someone else. But parents have their rights, no less than children do. This father wants to raise his daughter, and the statute amply protects his right to do so. There is no reason in law or policy to dilute that protection.”And Justice Sotomayor, in her dissent, argued that the Roberts Court had once again engaged in judicial activism, unnecessarily diluting a statute intended to protect against the very outcomes, stealing indian children to give them to white people, that the Roberts Court was enabling:
“When it excludes noncustodial biological fathers from the Act’s substantive protections, this textually backward reading misapprehends ICWA’s structure and scope. Moreover, notwithstanding the majority’s focus on the perceived parental shortcomings of Birth Father, its reasoning necessarily extends to all Indian parents who have never had custody of their children, no matter how fully those parents have embraced the financial and emotional responsibilities of parenting. The majority thereby transforms a statute that was intended to provide uniform federal standards for child custody proceedings involving Indian children and their biological parents into an illogical piecemeal scheme.”MEANWHILE, DOWN SOUTH WHERE RACISM IS ALL BETTER NOW (according to SCOTUS)
THEN, in the case, “Shelby County, AL versus Holder”, everybody was talking about, the SCOTUS declared the Old Confederacy pretty much a dead issue in the South—guess they haven’t been watching the Paula Deen scandal—and effectively overturned the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This act enabled the federal government to review voting changes proposed by states, and some municipalities that had been shown at the time to have patterns of racial discrimination in voting laws.
Most of the states were in the Old Confederacy, where you would expect to see open and comfortable displays of racism, particularly in the GOP majorities that currently run those states.
Arguing that a “New South” had replaced the old, and that racial discrimination was no longer as much of a concern as it was in 1965, the Court said the effective portions of the act were unconstitutional.
Even after the 2012 election, where GOP efforts at widespread and confirmed voter suppression were quashed in most cases in legal reviews (causing states like Texas to withhold implementing Voter ID laws until after this decision), the Supreme Court ignored this obviously concerning issue, and, instead of expanding the Voting Rights Act to include reviews of any state with a GOP majority, they erased the protections they admitted had been the chief cause for the improvements in protecting voting rights.
One clue that the immoral majority in the Shelby decision were ignoring basic facts, was the opening statement in the majority decision by John Roberts:
"The Voting Rights Act of 1965 employed extraordinary measures to address an extraordinary problem."Except the premise of the Voting Rights Act was that something common and established, not extraordinary in any way, that being widespread racial discrimination in (mainly) Southern states, was so bad it warranted federal intervention, because the states themselves had no will to properly apply the Constitution to protect the voting rights of minorities, especially black voters.
Since the GOP currently rules in the affected states, and since the demographic futures of the GOP in those states, especially for example in Texas, are decidedly pro-Democratic Party, Republicans are now much more likely to pass voter suppression legislation, knowing they will face no automatic federal review of racist measures designed to keep power against the will of the true majority.