Every single day since November 5, 2008, conservatives have asserted they want to “take their country back,” and yesterday the highest court in the land obliged them and sent the nation back to February 2, 1870; the day prior to ratification of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Despite the increasing level of racism infecting America, the conservative Supreme Court officially endorsed, and enforced, the GOP’s state-sanctioned racism and officially announced the death knell of democracy in states controlled by Republicans that heartened neo-confederates and state rights activists. The High Court granted permission to Republican states to nullify the 15th Amendment’s guarantee that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” and called into question whether or not “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
The arbiter of all things legal and Constitutional in the United States ruled that the United States Congress no longer has the power to enforce the 15th Amendment by appropriate legislation, and transferred that power to the Koch-supported American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who will in turn direct their conservative surrogates to announce what is appropriate and who is allowed to vote in the states. The 5 ALEC Justices did not find anything in the Voting Rights Amendment was unconstitutional, but that the judgment of the United States Congress is no longer valid or appropriate.
The SCOTUS Blog in plain English explained that “Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which sets out the formula used to determine which state and local governments must comply with Section 5’s preapproval requirement is unconstitutional and can no longer be used. Thus, although Section 5 survives, it will have no actual effect.” In plainer English, the Supreme Court struck down the normally bi-partisan enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act that, for all intents and purposes, gives ALEC power to disenfranchise people of color’s voting rights. The fact that the High Court eliminated the preapproval requirement based on racial discrimination which is the impetus of ALEC voter suppression laws, leaves Congress no room to enact new legislation ALEC cannot easily override with a contrary state law.
https://www.politicususa.com/2013/06/26/conservatives-dinged-cnn-hires-newt-gingrich-represent-revived-crossfire.html knows full well that African Americans, and minorities in general, would vote for Democrats and not against their own self-interests like their white Southern counterparts, and to remedy that inconvenient situation, Republicans passed ALEC voter restriction laws to disenfranchise minority (read Democratic) voters. When the Attorney General challenged ALEC’S voter suppression legislation in the states, ALEC appealed to its servants on the High Court to rule that ALEC, and not Congress, the Justice Department, or the 15th Amendment designates who has the right to vote and who is legally restricted from participating in the election process. Doubtless that if African Americans, and minorities in general, supported Republican candidates, neither ALEC nor the High Court would disenfranchise people of color from having their voices heard.
Conservatives and 10th Amendment advocates cheered that, in their opinion, the High Court rightfully gave former Confederate states “the same rights as Northern states to set their own voting laws,” but until 2011 when Republicans gained control of some Northern states, there was no concerted effort to deny people of color the right to vote in Northern states. The great push to disenfranchise minority voters is the work of the Koch-sponsored ALEC whose template legislation mirrored Jim Crow laws’ effects and the VRA gave the Justice Department oversight to prevent Confederate states for restricting participation by people of color. President Obama expressed his disappointment “with the Supreme Court’s decision today” and said that “For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act – enacted and repeatedly renewed by wide bipartisan majorities in Congress – has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans. Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.” What the President did not say, to his credit, is that although there has been progress in securing voting rights over the past 50 years, Republicans have been invalidating the VRA since his election in 2008 beginning with their assault on ACORN.
President Obama and Senator Al Franken called on Congress to pass legislation strengthening the Voting Rights Act, but it seems to be a futile call because really; what grounds are there to base new legislation on? The ALEC laws suppressed student, seniors, poor, and minority voter rights, but Congress can hardly cite education, age, and economic grounds to empower the Justice Department to prevent Republicans from passing voter suppression laws. The likelihood of any new legislation even getting out of a committee is slim to none, and with the Republicans in control of the House there is no way Boehner will allow legislation make it to the floor that gives potential Democratic voters fair access to the ballot box. Doubtless the conservative court is well aware of the barrier they erected to any new Congressional action and it is why the SCOTUS blog said the ruling meant “Section 5 has no effect” even though it was not ruled unconstitutional.
To say the conservatives on the Supreme Court are activists in league with Republicans and ALEC is an understatement and it appears there is no end to their service to GOP machinations to end representative democracy in America. The court cannot possibly claim racial discrimination is vacant from America any more than they can claim corporations are not in control of two branches of the government. Critics of the ruling claim the Court set Americans’ right to vote back 50 years, but this ruling did more than give ALEC and Republicans free rein to disenfranchise minority voters in the South because they effectively opened the door for any and all restrictions on voting whether it is a state’s right to demand a Voter ID, eliminate early voting, or restrict voter registration drives. It is true the Court just returned the South to Jim Crow, but they also gave states the right to impose any requirements ALEC can devise to subvert democracy with impunity and further divide America and strengthen former Confederate state efforts to restrict minority voting.
What the conservative court accomplished besides handing ALEC the right to restrict minority voters in the South is effectively abolishing the 15th Amendment. Remember, none of ALEC’s voter suppression laws are worded to restrict minority voting, but they do specifically target minorities who are most adversely affected by Republican policies. Now there is little Congress can do to enforce equal voting rights and the conservative Court certainly knew their decision took the remaining enforcement out of Congress’s hands and handed it to ALEC. It should be no surprise though, the conservatives have handed down one decision after another that support ALEC’s corporate maneuvers and now they have taken away the last vestige of fair elections in Southern states that portends hazardous times for states that most need representatives for the people. ALEC came to power during the Reagan administration and thirty years later they control every Republican state and the High Court just empowered them to control elections throughout the former Confederacy and there is little Congress can do to halt their power grab. The calls for new Congressional legislation are praiseworthy, but the Supreme Court took Congress’s power to enforce a crucial Amendment out of their hands and sent it the way of the rest of America’s democracy; straight to ALEC and doubtless they have templates on file to accomplish what the John Bircher Koch brothers have panted for over the past decade and are a little closer to realizing; a fascist corporatocracy.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.