Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are none too impressed with the Clarence Thomas’ vote to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. When asked by the Huffington Post what his thoughts were on the matter, Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia said that Clarence Thomas’s vote was worse than what Snowden did, because Thomas, as a black person, was “legally aware of the consequences” of striking down integral parts of the Voting Rights Act but did it anyway.
Johnson told HuffPo that caucus members are used to Thomas harming the black community, “We don’t waste time sitting around talking about Clarence Thomas. Everybody knows it’s a deep tragedy.”
Just days ago, Clarence Thomas compared affirmative action to slavery and further suggested that diversity offers no benefits for students’ eduction, “As should be obvious, there is nothing ‘pressing’ or ‘necessary’ about obtaining whatever educational benefits may flow from racial diversity.” Tragic indeed. Thomas’ very conservative ideology seems to be, let the “free market” fix what systemic, lawless tyranny destroyed.
Johnson, a Buddhist, was an outspoken critic of the Iraq War. After Bush’s State of the Union Address in 2007, Johnson said, “This war has proven to be one of the gravest missteps in the recent history of our country. It is time for President Bush to face the music and respond to the urgent demands of a frustrated country.” He was also a Judge in the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, Georgia for over 10 years and received his law degree from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1979.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) called the decision “ghastly” and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) said the court “put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act.”
In 1991, the Congressional Black Caucus had the foresight to oppose Thomas (19-1) for a seat on the high court, even though he would be just the second black to serve on the court. (This should assist Republicans in their belief that blacks only voted for Obama because he’s black, but we all know they aren’t listening to reality right now.)
The lone dissenting voice on the caucus vote over Thomas was the only black Republican. This is further proof that policies matter, because the caucus opposed Thomas after reviewing his civil rights record.
Johnson is correct, Thomas is indeed the personification of a deep tragedy.
By gutting section 4, which provides the formula for determining which states must have any changes to their voting laws pre-approved by the Justice Department, the court left the matter up to this congress. (No wonder everyone is so dispirited.)
The Voting Rights Act needs to be strengthened via legislation, as Al Franken suggested on Tuesday, and Section 4 rewritten to provide more oversight, not less — especially given the recent Republican attempts to violate voting rights across the nation.