The fate of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act looked to be in doubt Wednesday as Supreme Court justices questioned whether the Southern states still need special supervision to prevent them from discriminating against black voters.In a nutshell:
"Are Southerners more likely to discriminate than Northerners?" asked a skeptical Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
The comments and questions during an hourlong argument suggested that a majority of the justices were prepared to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This provision requires many Southern states, counties and school districts to get approval from the Justice Department before making changes in their election rules. These rules range from the location of polling places to the makeup of districts in state legislatures.Not surprisingly, the first black president's administration together with the NAACP argued against losing this protection, suggesting it was landmark and that the old ways would immediately come back if removed. Conservatives used facts to argue otherwise:
Roberts noted that Massachusetts had a lower rate of registering Latino voters than Texas. "Why didn't Congress extend the act to Massachusetts?" he asked.Liberals might point to McCain's deep red victories throughout the south and they'd be correct, except their explanation would be race alone, not good common sense or that photoshopped picture of Sarah Palin with a gun and an American flag bikini. Such charges are hard to prove for everyone except lefties and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The court seems to be trending towards the quaint notion that such oversight usually requires at least a shred of evidence towards discrimination. Yet Congress rubber-stamped the clause another 25 years back in 2006, as if they expected the fraud not now occurring to linger through 2031. Clearly this should be one size fits all, or none at all. Clearly there was a political advantage for Pelosi.
But this might be a good test of America's racial courage should the SCOTUS strike it down since we've been told America is full of cowards. We'll see how these courageous men of the court fare.