Weekly Political Report: SCOTUS Strikes Down Key Provision in Voting Rights Act of 1965–A Technical Error? Or A Difference in Opinion?


Each week I write a political issue that affects YOU and the WORLD around you.

This week’s political issue: Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Provision 5

The scales of justice has been dismantled and one of the oldest civil rights laws in US history has been demoralized.

On June 25, the US Supreme Court struck down a key provision to one of the oldest and prominent Civil Rights law in American History: Voting Rights Act of 1965. A provision that was once been deemed “constitutional” for over 40 years, based on the merits of providing equal access to the voting polls for African Americans, has now been deemed “unconstitutional” by a small contingent of elitists. Martin Luther King couldn’t have said it better when he said this: “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In a 5-4 ruling that split the court along ideological lines, the court ended a requirement that some or all areas in 15 states get advance approval from the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges for all changes to voting laws, procedures and even polling place locations. The reason why the court ended this requirement is because Congress that reauthorized the law during Bush’s term (2006) did not have the sufficient basis to re-adopt a formula that was essentially used when the law was first passed in 1965.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the conservative majority in this ruling, wrote this in his majority opinion: Lawmakers “reenacted a formula based on 40-year-old facts, having no logical relationship to the present day. Despite thousands of pages of evidence [Congress accumulated in 2006] we cannot pretend that we are reviewing an updated statute or try our hand at updating the statute ourselves, based on the new record compiled by Congress.” On the other hand, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who spoke on behalf of the four liberal justices, disagreed with this logic.

Ginsburg, like many others (including myself) that were outraged by this decision, asserted that the courts majority overstepped its bound by failing to uphold a basic principle towards reducing unfair practices in voting redistricting and gerrymandering: preclearance or approval. Ginsburg wrote this in her dissenting opinion: the requirement “would facilitate completion of the impressive gains thus far made [and] guard against backsliding. Those assessments were well within Congress’ province to make and should elicit this Court’s unstinting approbation. The number of discriminatory changes blocked or deterred by the preclearance requirement suggests that the state of voting rights in the covered jurisdictions would have been significantly different absent this remedy.”

What the Supreme Court did was inexcusable. The acts of Civil Rights Leaders, who have been chased by dogs and hosed down by firemen, are now a forgotten history.The Supreme Court does not interpret data–they interpret the law. This law (or provision) states “that some or all areas in 15 states must have advance approval from the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges for all changes to voting laws, procedures and even polling place locations.” This principle is the bedrock to a fair democracy. This ruling is something that I would expect from a developing country that does not value fair voting laws. But not the US!

 

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